Skip to main content

Full text of "The Red Burgee: Sea Comedies"

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/ 



11, Western Road, Shoreham^by^Sea. 

It Is due for return by the last date stamped. 

ri7 OCT 1938 

2 1 OCT 1935 

(gOOCT 1935 

1^ DEC 1935 
=-7 MAR 1936 

- # 













All the stories included in this 

volume have been previously 




All Spain and Captain Spink .... 9 

An Insultbd Ship 30 

A Man's Death 62 

Thx Gold Mine of Kertch Bar .... 90 

On a Taut Bowline 109 

Wash-Tub Davis 126 

Wide Bay Bar 144 

The Measuring op the Dhow . .161 

A Sea Comedy 174 


Captain Spink said, **Dainn Spain!" and 
it was perhaps fortunate that the alguazil 
did not understand English. 

" Que hay ? " replied the alguazil. 

"I don't deal in it," said the captain; 
"but hay or quay, I don't shift from here, 
and that's flat — as flat as an entertainment 
in a Bethel." 

The captain was little and square and 
chunky, and he had a cross glitter in his 
eye like an opal. Smooth him down with 
butter and his eye was mild mother-of-pearl, 
but rub him the wrong way and it gleamed 
like blood. 

" An evil eye," said the alguazil ; ** I 
think it would be advisable to retreat with 
dignity and inform my superior." 

He only uttered the last section aloud. 


*' You're right every time, sonny," said 
the captain, "when you hook it. But you 
can tell your superiors to bring up on the 
lee side of hell. I hope they'll enjoy the 
smoke ! " 

He lighted a cigar and promenaded the 
hot deck of the Swan of Avon. 

" Tm Captain Spink — Harry Sharpness 
Spink — of the Swan of Avon, that's what I 
am. And I come from Gloucester ; double 
Glo'ster every time," said the captain. 
*' And if any man runs a thundering old 
tramp like my Swan to better advantage 
for myself (and owners) let him come on 
board and tell me so." 

But no one came on board: firstly, be- 
cause few loved Spink; secondly, because 
there was no one on the wharf but a 
few loafers ; and, thirdly, because the lovely 
Swan was the only tramp in the harbour. 

" I believe Tm cross," said Captain Harry 
Sharpness Spink from Gloucester ; '• I really 
do believe it. And where the devil is my 
devil of a mate ? " 

He roared down the companion. 



''Come up and quarrel with me, you 
wharf rat/' said Captain Spink. 

"When I get ready,** said the mate 
from below. " For TU have you know it's 
Sunday, and 1*11 quarrel with no one till to- 

"Oh, very well," replied Spink; "then 
come up and be civil and give me a chance 
to get the kinks out of my tongue.'* 

"1*11 come when I get ready,'* said the 
mate. **Can*t you see I'm fixing myself 
up? Isn*t a man to have a moment to 
himself in this here boat? Where do you 
keep your collars ? ** 

"Where you'll not get them," replied 
Captain Spink. " Who*ve you fallen in love 
with now that your mind runs on collars? 
I should have thought your sort would have 
been satisfied with a bandanner ! " 

The mate sniggered. 

*' I took your last girl, anyhow," said he, 
" and well you know it. She said she loved 
my sea-boots better than Captain Spink. And 
that's the reason you're so down on Spain." 

" I'll punch your head," cried the skipper. 


" If you say that again,** said the mate, 
"Til quarrel, whatever day of the week 
it is." 

As Captain Spink could keep no officer 
whom he was able to lick, he said no more 
about fighting. And from this it may be 
judged that captain, mate and second mate 
made a good show among any ordinary 

But presently Ward came on deck. He 
was big and handsome, but a trifle scarred 
with cuts from a stay-sail hank that he got 
fighting in a sailors' home. 

** So you won't lend me a collar ? " he 

'* Mine wouldn't reach round a capstan," 
replied the captain. ** Why didn't you come 
up when you heard me havin' words with 
that chap ? " 

**You know I don't come up till I'm 
ready," said Ward ; "and if you can't tackle 
one Spaniard, why, what good are you ? " 

Spink frowned and looked round the 

" I'd tackle all Spain," said Captain 



Spink. "Ain't I an Englishman, the best 
class of 'em, that comes from Glo'ster ? " 

"The best class comes from Yorkshire,*' 
cried Ward, "and if it was to-morrow, I'd 
show you." 

Spink look at him. 

" Well, but it's to-day, and Glo'ster goes," 
he replied firmly. 

" Not if Bill was here," said Ward, with 

For Bill was the second mate, and came 
from Newcastle. 

"You always bring in Bill," said Spink, 
a trifle fretfully. 

^' He don't have no regard for Sunday," 
replied Ward ; ** if anything, I should say he 
fights better on Sunday or Christmas Day 
than any other day. And I'd like to hear 
you run down Newcastle in favour of Glo'ster 
when he's hot. You never argue counties 
with me except it's a day I won't do no 
fighting on." 

"It ain't counties, but countries now," said 
Spink, " for if I know anything about Spain 
and the Mediterranean they'll make it hot 



for me tying up here when they said I 

Ward snorted. 

**Then why doit?" 

*' Why do it ? " asked Spink, in surprise. 
'* And don't you know me ? " 

-Worse luck! " said Ward. " But Bill's 
coming down the wharf, rolling." 

" Don't you say nothing about counties to 
him," urged the skipper, " I don't want no 
row just now- " 

" Oh yes," said Ward ; it's you are on Sun- 
days now, are you ? I've half a mind " 

" Oh, dry up ! " said Spink. 

And then Bill climbed on board. He was 
something the build of a puncheon, and 
rolled, drunk or sober. 

" Bung up and bilge free," he remarked as 
he fell over a coiled hawser. 

" What cheer, Newcastle ? " asked Ward, 
as the second greaser tried to rise. 

*' Don't you throw no slurs on Newcastle," 
burred Bill, ** or it'll be the worse for the 
pair of you. All the engine-room crowd's in 



After having imparted this information he 
rolled over and fell asleep in the hawser coil, 
while Spink raged and stormed on the tarred 

" Oh, damn all Spain ! " he cried once 
more, " from Santander to Malaga, and from 
Barcelona to Cadiz. Can I ever come into 
a Spanish port without trouble of the worst 
kind ? And now to have all the engineers 
in the calaboose ! It fair breaks my heart ! " 

" Breaks your what ? " asked contemptuous 
Ward. '* Oh, you sicken me, you fair sicken 
me, you really do. And a man with your 
nat'ral gifts, too ! " 

He spat on the deck with disgust. 

"Well," complained the skipper, apolo- 
getically, "and can't you understand how 
some things goes beyond any man's powers 
of swearing ? And mayn't I have a notion 
of Sunday with regard to language just as 
you have with regard to fighting.^ You've 
no logic ! " 

" What ! me no logic ? " asked the thunder- 
struck mate. " You say that ? You ? 
Haven't I argued with you till you fell 



asleep, fair wore out ? Well, that does take 
the cake ! " 

" Then you'd better argue with the crowd 
in uniform that's coming down the wharf," 
said Spink ; " for if I know this lot you'll 
have a chance. How I wish I wasn't sober ! 
There'd have bin a lovely row ! " 

This was the third time that the Stvan of 
Avon had been in the little port of Aguilas, 
and very naturally she and her crowd were 
better known than liked When Spink took 
her there first he was in a hurry, and not 
being much accustomed to Spaniards, 
mafiana was too much for him. 

"Everything's to-morrow with this lot," 
said Spink, mournfully, as he drank hot rum 
under an awning. '*0h, give me Russians, 
even Russians ! " 

And on going up town at night he got 
into trouble and found himself, much bruised 
with blows from a heavy sword in its 
scabbard, uncomfortably in gaol. 

When he visited burning bright Aguilas 
for the second time he had a row with all 
the town and port authorities on the subject 



of ballast, which he wanted to discharge 
over the side when alongside the wharf. 
And that cost him many dollars and a 
week's detention. 

But now he had made fast in a berth 
wanted for a boat coming from Barcelona, 
which was owned by the biggest man in 

** And just out of sheer cussedness," said 
Ward. **Oh, I wish I'd never sailed with 

** Who'd have you but me ? " asked Spink. 

And then the crowd in uniform came 

** Speak slow, you big black beggar," said 
Spink to the chief policeman who said 
something, **or I can't savvy." 

The big black beggar repeated a sentence. 

•' Oh, I savvy," said Spink. " Mariana / " 

" I had him there," he added, turning to 
Ward. "They filled me up once with to- 
morrer. Let 'em have some back, and see 
how they like it ! " 

But " to-morrow " was not in the mind of 
the chief of police. 

17 B 


** By crums," said Spink, " they're going 
to cut us adrift." 

And before he could do anything but yell 
the Swan of Avon was disconnected from 
the wharf, for three cuts with an axe on the 
head and stern fasts set her free, add the 
wind blew her off slowly. 

"Well, I'm damned!" said the skipper, 
blankly. "Oh, you black perisher, how'll 
I ever get even with you ? Say something 
for me, Ward ! Say something bad about 
his wife and his mother-in-law ; tell him we 
took Gibraltar from 'em ; tell 'em Cuba ain't 
theirs no more ; chuck in suthin* about the 
American Senate! Oh, what did I ship 
you for but because you know'd more 
Spanish ? " 

And Captain Spink danced with rage, 
while Ward leant over the side saying what 
he thought would hurt them most But he 
had to leave off soon in order to prevent the 
Swan going ashore. They dropped anchor 
just in time, and in no more than time, for 
when she swung wind-rode, a big rock was 
within two fathoms of her stern. 



" This is all your foolishness," said Ward, 
mopping his forehead with his neck hand- 
kerchief **And now I'll never dare set 
foot ashore here after what I told 'em." 

" You never made 'em half as mad as I 
will," said the skipper, solemnly. " I'll 
make 'em wish they'd been Portuguese. I'll 
make all this town sick. I'll make some die 
of apoplexy. I'll make 'em so hot that the 
sun at noon will cool 'em." 

" What's your game ? " asked Ward. 

"You wait till we're ready to go," said 
Spink. *' I've got a plan ! I tell you all 
Spain ain't a match for Captain Harry Sharp- 
ness Spink of Glo'ster ! Oh, no, not much i 
Could you mix yourself and me a drink, and 
bring me up the signal book ? " 

" What for ? " asked the mate. 

** Becos," said the skipper. And as Ward 
was dry he went below. 

It was three days before the Swan of Avon 
was discharged and seven more before she 
was loaded. And to the intense surprise of 
Ward and Bill and the entire crowd, 
including the engineers, who were out of the 



calaboose, Spink didn't sail when he was 

'' How many Spanish flags have we got, 
Bill ? " asked Spink, that afternoon. 

** Not one that I know of," replied the 
second mate. 

" Then buy some coloured caUco cheap and 
set the men making three or four," said Spink. 
" And a Portugee flag, two of *em at least" 

" What for ? " asked the puzzled Bill. 

''That's my business," said the skipper. 
" Who commands this vessel — me or you ? 
And jest tell the mate Td like to speak to 

Presently Ward climbed on the poop. 

" What's got you, to lie here ? " he growled. 
" Have they been so good to you in Aguilas 
that you'll pay extra dues to make their 
fortunes ? " 

Spink closed one eye and grinned. 

" Don't you know me ? Who am I ? 
I'm Captain Harry Sharpness Spink from 
Glo'ster. And the best men " 

*' No, they don't, by gosh ! " said Ward, 
suddenly. "It ain't Sunday, mind ! " 



The skipper looked him up and down. 

" Very well, they don't, then ; but all the 
same didn't I say I'd make the name of Spink 
ring through Spain ? " 

''You did say some such kind of foolish- 
ness," the mate admitted. 

"And I meant it," cried the skipper. 
•' But I want you to go ashore and see if 
they've any kind of guns on that hill there." 

** I was up there last time and they have," 
said Ward. 

"Any good .>" 

"I'd be sorry to fire one and be within a 
nautical mile of it. But what's guns on a 

Spink looked cunning. 

" Never you mind. You know me, and 
my name, and where I came from, and what 
I says I does it every time. The day after 
to-morrow is their big day in Aguilas ; it's 
their pattern saint's day, ain't it ? " 

Ward scratched his head. 

" How should I know ? And what's a 
pattern saint ? " 

The skipper snorted. 



•* A pattern saint is the one they have all 
to themselves, according to their own 
specification, as per original indent ; the 
sealed pattern bein' kept at Rome," said he. 
" But for all your ways on Sunday it's little 
you know about religion, Ward, very 

The next day Bill had the Spanish and 
Portuguese flags ready. And to them the 
captain added some more which he had 
prepared in his own cabin. 

"What's your game.^'* asked both the 
mates at supper. 

And the skipper winked the other eye. 

"A Spaniard is a touchy kind of thing, 
ain't he?" 

" He is," allowed the mates. 

"Then I'm going to touch him on the 
raw," said the captain. " I'll show him what 
it means to cut me adrift. There was two 
fathoms cut off that new hawser. They shall 
pay for it in having their blooming fester 

** You might tell," urged the mates. 

But Spink blandly refused, for he was 



sweet and mellow and his eyes were 

"Wait till to-morrow," he said. 

And when to-morrow came he and Ward 
went ashore early and got their papers fixed 
up with the big black beggar who had cut 
them adrift. 

"Adios, Senor Maflana," said Spink. 
** Good-bye, you hawser-cutting swine that 
ought to be trimming coals for a living." 

But he said it so mildly that the official 
imagined the Capitan Inglese had quite for- 
given him. 

**Ask him if it ain't their pattern saint's 
fester^' said he to Ward. 

And the Spaniard said it was their great 

"Then tell him, Ward, that as we ain't 
leaving till this afternoon I'll flag out the 
Swan in honour of Saint What's-his-Name." 

The sombre Spaniard replied that it was 
infinitely obliging on his part, and that he 
had no doubt the display would be brilliant 
and most gratifying to the gentleman in 



"Yes, brillatUe,'' said Spink, catching the 
word. " Caramha, maHana ; adios, seHorT' 

"I wish you wouldn't try to talk it," 
growled Ward, " because you caa't" 

But Spink whistled, and walked back 
cheerfully through the hot and humming 

When he got on board he called up 
MTherson, the chief engineer. 

"When will you be ready, Mac?" he 

"I'm ready now," grumbled the chief, 
"and have been this two days." 

" Get all the steam on her you can," said 
the skipper, "for maybe TU want to leave in 
a hurry about four." 

" What's up?" asked M'Pherson. 

" You wait and see," said Spink. 

They were then lying at anchor, and as 
there was little wind to speak of, the Swan 
of Avon pointed her rusty nose all round the 
shop till Spink laid out a kedge astern and 
got her ready for the harbour entrance. And 
at noon he started to flag her out 

"Send up the Spanish ensign, three of 


'em, above everything," said he, "and 
shove up all the signals just as you please, 

And the crowd ashore, in festal attire, 
cheered at the brave display. 

"Well, what now?" said Bill. "What 
about the Portuguese flags and the Stars and 

The captain sat under the awning, drink- 
ing long drinks. 

" Give it time to soak in, sonny. There's 
no hurry. Maybe they'll send a deputation 
to thank us." 

They did not do that, but the whole town 
was ^oon watching the Swan. 

" The Englishman must be drunk," said 
the town presently. For Spink got to haul- 
ing the flags down and hoisting them up 
again till the men at the signal halliards 
were wet with the exercise. 

" That'll fix their eyes on us," said Spink. 
" What time is it. Ward ? There's a bit of 
breeze now." 

" It's three," said Ward. 

" Then heave her short and tell Mac to 


>Micn professional etiquette dei 

" Then hciul down the Spai 
said Spink, going below to his i 

He came up with a bundle 
saw to their arrangement himsel 

" They'll murder us," said Wa 
tumbled to the captain's notion. 

" Murder blazes/' said the sk 
temptuously. "We'll give it 

When he hoisted the flags again, 
laughed, and some of the people as 
mured at the lack of English tact 

For the Stars and Stripes flew 
Spanish flag. 

** Haul 'em down again," roared t 
skipper, jumping on the deck. ' 
'em to cut me adrift" 

" What h^'''* - 


cutting out big letters and sewing them on 
two plain pennants. 

" Hoist away ! " he yelled. 

And in the breeze flew two flags above 
the Spanish flag, with ** Cuba Libre " on one 
and "Gibraltar" on the other. A crowd 
gathered on the wharf, and when they made 
out the legends there was the ugly sound of 
an angry mob. Some ran into the town. 

** That'll show you," said Captain Harry 
Sharpness Spink; "that'll teach you, my 
fine fellows." 

He took another drink. 

"Haul' em down again and shove the Portu- 
guese flag over the Spanish," he commanded. 
And now his men entered into the matter 
heartily and cheered as the flags went up. 
But the news ran through the town and the 
crowd on the wharf increased every moment. 
Some threw stones at the Swan and a few of 
them reached her. Others got into boats. 

"Get the hose ready," said Captain Spink, 
who was now rather under the sun. " Soak 
them if they come near. And hoist the 
Spanish flag upside down I " 



But Ward touched him on the arm. 

" Look/' he said, pointing to the hill. 

'•What?" asked Spink. 

" They're at that old gun/' said Ward. 

•'To blazes with the gun/' hiccoughed 
Spink ; '' I come from Glo'ster I Just rig up a 
signal to say we don't care a damn for guns/' 

•'It ain't in the signal book/' said Bill, 
who was standing alongside. ''But don't 
you reckon you've done enough signalling ? " 

The folks ashore evidently thought so, for 
as the words left Bill's mouth a shot left the 
muzzle of the old twenty-four pounder on the 

" They can't hit us," said Spink, as the 
round shot screamed overhead and pitched 
into the water at the harbour mouth. ** Send 
the steward up with another drink. This is 
a cashus belli^ that's what this is. Salisbury 
will have to hear of this/' 

" Don't you think we'd better get ofif? " 
asked Ward. 

" Not till you and Bill owns up that 
Glo'ster's the county," said the skipper, 

drinking, " else I stay here till " 



But then a shot knocked a splinter out of 
the funnel. 

" Good old gun ! " said Spink. " Will you 
argue counties now ? " 

" No, Glo'ster goes," cried Ward, hastily. 

"Then take her out," said the skipper, 
"for I think I'll have a bit of a snooze." 

And as the flagged-out Swan of Avon left 
Aguilas, Captain Harry Sharpness Spink of 
Glo'ster fell asleep in a deck-chair. 



" Now ye know well, and deny it ye cannot, 
though ye would if ye could, that the 
Windermere can lick ye close-hauled, or 
with the wind free, or with it on the beam, 
and with it on the quarter," said Captain 
Stokes of the Windermere ; "and you can 
tell your wife so." 

But Captain Jenkins of the Batlarat 
smoked, and looked superior. 

" Deny it ! " repeated Stokes, with a 
redder face ; " deny it ! " 

** Why the blue blazes should I put myself 
out of the way, with the thermometer where 
it is, to deny any silly statement made by 
the first fool that comes along?" asked 
Jenkins, addressing his question apparently 
to a thick-stemmed glass of Scotch whisky 
standing on the table before him. 

" Do ye mean me by * the first fool ? ' " 


asked Stokes, angrily. '* For if ye did, I 
ask ye to call to mind how many times ye 
tried for a master's certificate before ye got 
it. And mine came to me easy at the very 
first time of askin*. Now, did ye mean me 

** I did," said Jenkins, firmly. 

Stokes, who was by far the bigger man, 
half rose up. But Jenkins put his hand 
casually on a heavy stone match-box and 
his rival sat down again. 

" I came in here," said he, " not to have a 
row with you, but to argue it out I say the 
Windermere can knock spots off the Ballarat. 
Isn't that argument? What did they say 
about your vessel last survey ? When they 
drove a bolt out did it ask for driving ? No, 
out it came like a rotten tooth. But the 
Windermere is sound and salted throughout 
— tons of it in her. Tons, pian ! " 

'* Does salt make a ship faster ? Does it 
put a knot on her as well's a year to her 
class ? That's what I want to know ; and an 
answer to the point would greatly oblige," said 
Jenkins, still speaking to his glass of whisky. 


cw Liic power of drivin' he 

know it, Captain Jenkins. Fo. 
to a main t'gaH'n's'l when your 
and mizzen, is reefed. Because 
is rotten, and druxy right throuj 

*'Druxy! what's druxy?" as 
visibly angry at last. " What c 
sayin' she's druxy ? *' 

Stokes triumphed. 

" If ye don't know what it is 
harm have I done ye ? And i: 
can't deny the word, and little ] 
buildin' a ship. And that I do ! '' 

" Ay," said Jenkins ; ** you maj 
Stokes, but can ye sail one ? " 

He chuckled, and Stokes jump 

** I can sail a ship, or a ba 
schooner, or a barge, or a butter- 
ye any day, Captain TpnU^r^r, 


the port of London, beatin' ye a whole long 

" Because my silly ass of a mate dropped 
the chronometer on the deck/' said Jenkins. 
" No other reason." 

" What ! no other reason ? " roared Stokes. 
" Here, oh Lord ! let me have another 

He rang the bell and ordered one. 

**The same for me," said Jenkins. "Oh, 
ain't it hot .>" 

"A good argument — ^a thing I like — 
always warms a man,'' cried Stokes. '^ But 
sweatin' cools me too. And I say I can out- 
sail ye any tack." 

" Any tack of talk," said Jenkins. ** But 
though words is wind, they don't blow no ship 
along. If they did, you'd cross a calm like the 
Flying Dutchman^ with your lee rail under," 

"Talking of tack now," jeered Stokes, 
" can you tell hackmatack from hickory ? Of 
course you can't ! " 

"Then, if you know, why ask.^" said 
Jenkins. " I'm not a bot'nist — no, nor a 
ship's carpenter. I'm the master of a sailing 

33 c 


ship and know my business, and that's good 
enough for my owners. And if I didn't 
know pitch-pine from teak, would it make 
any difference to my doing you in the eye a 
good knot with the wind aft ? " 

"Yes, aft, and aft only," cried Stokes. 
*' But going home I don't have to chase you 
down wind all the way. If I lost all through 
to the line, I'd pick it up in the North-East 
Trades and leave you going to loo'ard like a 
haystack in a barge." 

**But it ain't so," said Jenkins, now a 
little under the weather, *' and just now you 
put me out and let me allow you to make you a 
statement that hasn't no foundations. When 
did you ever see us bound the same way and 
you swinging your to'gall'n's'l and me with 
reefed topsails ? for you never did it, no, nor 

** Very well," replied Stokes. '* I'll have 
another, and ye can too, if ye like, and we'll 
argue it out fair and square." 

**ril pay for my own, thank ye," growled 

" And to get on with the argument, I say 


I done so," cried Stokes. "It was two 
years ago, in eighteen-eighty, and, if I re- 
member rightly, and I do— it was when we 
was both bound for Liverpool, and we 
sighted each other off the Tuscan" 

'* And didn't I shake the reefs out, and 
h'ist my t'gall'n'sl ? " asked Jenkins. " And 
how long was you before me with yours ? " 

" I was before you." 

" And soon was behind me ! Bah ! " said 
Jenkins, nastily. " Oh, what's your argu- 
ment ? " 

Stokes rose and banged the table. 

** My argument is that I can sail round ye," 
he roared; **and further, my argument is 
that yell see me do it ; and furthermore and 
moreover, every one 'U know it " 

'' And make a song about it when it's done, 
eh ? '* said Jenkins. '* But it ain't done, and 
if you ever dare to try it and come across my 
hawse I'll cut you down to the water's edge 
and leave you to drown. That's what I'll do ! 
Your argument ! Oh, damn your argument ! " 

And Jenkins smote Stokes's drink gff the 
table and went. 



'* But I beat him at the argument," said 
Stokes, nodding his fat red head ; '' at that I 
beat him. And ain't he a nasty temper 

Captain Jenkins of the abused Ballarai, a 
barque of 800 tons register, went down the 
smoking hot pier, with its entrance lying 
between burning sandhills, cursing the 
weather and old Stokes. For the truth is 
that the skipper of the Windermere seemed 
to have told no lies when he cracked up his 
own vessel and ran down the Ballarafs 
sailing qualities. 

'• Sail round me ! " said Jenkins ; ** now 
just let him try it ! " 

It was Sunday afternoon, and a few 
hundred Melbourne girls and their young 
men were on the pier. For on that day 
Sandridge was a kind of Southend, and 
represented the seaside to many who stewed 
in the juices of Melbourne through the week. 
Jenkins took no notice of them, and cut 
through the crowd like a black tug through a 
fleet of pleasure boats, and at last came to 
his own vessel. Going on board, he found 



Mrs. Jenkins, who accompanied him on his 
voyages, sitting in a deck chair under an 
awning. She was much taller than Jenkins, 
and very thin, but of a hardy and weather- 
beaten appearance. 

''And where have you been?" she de- 
manded rather tartly. 

For she had taken to the sea to look after 
Jenkins's morals, having discovered on his 
first return home that they needed looking 

He squatted on a hencoop. 

"IVe been palavering with that beastly 
idiot Stokes," he answered shortly. 

" And drinking," said Mrs. Jenkins. 

" And who wouldn't, this weather ? " asked 
Jenkins, mopping his brow with his sleeve. 

" And what had Stokes to say ? " 

** He said that he*d sail round me — sail 
round me ; that's what he said ! " cried 
Jenkins ; '' so I knocked his drink off the 
table, and away I come for fear of trouble." 

Mrs. Jenkins had been to sea more or less 
for thirteen years, and for a woman was a 
wonder at sailorising. The men forward were 



always having arguments as to whether she 
could pass for a second mate if the Board of 
Trade allowed her to try. 

"Stokes said that, did he?" she cried, 
" And in the Windermere ? " 

** In what else ? " growled Jenkins. 

•• He can't" 

*'He can," said Jenkins, very sulkily, 
** and what's more he will, if I give him any 
show to do it. For an obstinater beast than 
Stokes don't exist" 

" You're a coward, and he's got you beat 
before you begin,** cried Mrs. Jenkins 
angrily. ** Haven't I always told you that 
you was a deal too tender with our ship ? " 

Jenkins shook his head and his whole 
body in a cross, deprecating sort of 

** You know she's fair rotten, don't you.^ 
How did she get through her last survey? 
D'ye want me to tell you that story again ? 
Do I dare drive her 'cept with the wind aft, 
and then I'm all a-shiver for fear of the 
sticks coming right out of her." 

" Oh, you just think so," cried his wife, 


contemptuously. "Where's the nerve you 
had when you married me ? " 

"Oh, where?" said Jenkins, disconso- 
lately. " I haven't got it now, not with the 

"Then I'll have it for you," cried Mrs. 
Jenkins. Turning, she roared down the sky- 
light to the steward. 

"Tell Mr. Cook he's wanted." 

And in five minutes the hot and sleepy 
mate crawled on deck. 

"Well.^" he demanded rather discourt- 

" Look here, Mr. Cook," said the captain's 
wife, "if you were in command of the 
Ballarai and the captain of any ship said 
he'd sail round you, what would you 

" I 'd punch his head," growled the mate ; 
" why, of course." 

" You hear that, Captain Jenkins ? " asked 
Mrs. Jenkins. " But suppose he tried it after 

The mate considered and scratched his 



" Vd try to stop him doin' it," he said at 

^^ You hear that, Captain Jenkins ? And 
you wouldn't sit down, Mr. Cook, and say it 
couldn't be helped ? " 

•* Not till rd tried, ma'am." 

*• You hear that, Edward? " 

Jenkins shifted on his seat uneasily. 

" Oh, I hear it, Maria ; of course I hear it 
But suppose it was the Wuidermere that 
was goin' to sail round the Ballarat^ 

Cook turned and ran his eye over the 
Windermere^ which was lying on the other 
side of the pier. 

" If it was the Windermere ? " he asked 

*' Yes, if it was?" said Mrs. Jenkins. 

Cook brought his eyes back to the Ballarat 
and cast a look aloft 

"Well, I'm damned if I don't believe sheM 
do it," he said. 

Mrs. Jenkins stamped on the deck. 

" Oh, I've no patience ! " she cried. 
"Where's Jack?" 



Now Jack was her nephew and the second 
mate. She roared down the skylight again. 

" Send Mr. Atkinson up." 

" He's sleepin', the same as I was," said 
the mate. 

** But Ae can wake up/' retorted Mrs. 
Jenkins, bitterly. ^*He's got some go in 
him ; it's in the blood." 

" Yes, ma*am," said Cook, meekly. 

Presently Jack Atkinson came on deck, 
obviously in an insubordinate mood. 

" None of your impertinence," said his 
fiery aunt. And she put the case to him. 

" If I believed he could do it," cried Jack, 
*^ I'd hurt him so that he'd stay in hospital 
till I got a good month ahead of him." 

Mrs. Jenkins shook her fist at him. 

"Always violence in you men, and mostly 
on your tongues and not anywhere else," she 
cried. " But could the Windermere do it } " 

Jack's eye travelled over the Windermere 
as the mate's had done. 

'•I'm damned if I don't believe she could," 
said Jack. 

His aunt's eyes flashed. 


" She can't and she sha'n't ; and if she does 
ril never set foot in the Ballarat again. 
No, never," she cried. " Very well, you can 

'* That'll do the watch," said Jack, wink- 
ing at the chief mate ; and, going below, they 
sat smoking till the sun went down. 

''Look here," said Mrs. Captain Jenkins, 
when they were gone, " all the passage out 
the Ballarat carried a lee helm. That'll have 
to be altered. It takes something off her, 
don't it?" 

" Yes," said Jenkins. 

" Then you'll get a new spanker. The one 
we have is sizes too small. I hate that 
Stokes, and his wife too. And you've often 
said you could get her half a point nearer the 
wind if you wanted to. Now you'll please 
want to, Edward. You'll just have to fix it 
so that you can slack off the lee topmast 
rigging when it's required." 

" I shall lose the topmasts," said Edward. 

**No, you won't," cried his wife, hastily, 
" and if you did, Stokes couldn't crow. 
Why, if the ThemiopylcB was dismasted, it 



wouldn't be a feather in the cap of a mud- 
barge to sail round her, and you've often said 
you thought you ought to get up some 
preventer backstays." 

Edward gasped and wiped his forehead. 

'• Very well, my dear." 

" And there's another thing. Did we ever 
make such a good passage as we did when 
we was rather deep, and a bit by the stern, 
for that matter ? You know we didn't. I'll 
see Gray myself. We ought to have that 
tallow, not Stokes." 

" The lighter he is, in reason, the better 
for us," said Jenkins. " It's something in the 
build of her." 

" Of course," said the new captain, " we 
may lose a little running, but we'll make it up 
other ways. And we want more stuns'l gear, 
booms especially." 

•'My dear!" said Jenkins, *'what'll the 
owners say ? " 

" Oh, what!" said his wife, contemptuously ; 
" I'd rather you got the sack and sailed a 
tug on the Tyne than be sailed round. And 
if you punched Stokes's head before we went 



I don't know but what Td not mind it, so 
as you didn't get in the papers." 

" You wouldn't, eh ? " cried Jenkins, perk- 
ing up. " Then I'll see about it He c^a't 
sail round me at that, or I'm a double 

In the oiorning Mrs. Jenkins fixed herself 
up with a regular sky-scraper of a hat, that 
rose in feathers tier over tier and carried her 
to loo'ard when the wind blew. Then she 
went to interview Gray. 

** Good Lord ! here's Mother Jenkins 
booming along like a hearse with plumes," 
said Gray. ** What's she want now ? " 

For he dreaded her power of over-ruling ob- 
jections and paralysing opposition. When she 
opened on him he listened with a craven spirit 

" You know we're short of freight, any- 
how," he urged, " and as it was arranged, the 
Windermere was to have the tallow." 

**Well, I want it," said Mrs. Jenkins 
sternly ; *' unless the BaUarafs deep she's 
not a weatherly ship, as you know well." 

" But what can I tell Stokes } " asked 
Gray, "for I said he was to have it" 



"Then say it was an error," cried Mrs. 
Jenkins, "and if Tm not mistaken he won't 
have any objections. He hates being 

"That's so," said Gray. "Then Til see 
about it." 

" No," said Mrs. Jenkins, sitting down on 
a stool, " I want it settled now." 

She looked as if she meant staying. 

•*Very well, then," cried Gray, "you shall 
have it." 

Mrs. Jenkins smiled a weather-beaten 
smile of victory and withdrew triumphant, 
firmly convinced that with a few neat arrange- 
ments she might make the Ballarat some- 
thing that the Windermere could not sneeze 

Though she had dismissed Cook and her 
nephew very summarily, she took them into 
council again. 

*' Can either of you suggest anything that'd 
help this vessel on a wind, close hauled ? " 
she demanded. 

They shrugged their shoulders. 

" Oh, you're a helpless lot for sailors," she 


cried. "Can't you think of a thing to help 

The mate scratched his head. 

'' The Ballarafs always short-handed, and 
she's a slow worker and a hard/' he said. 
" Four more for'ard would make a lot of 
difference. More beef to the braces. That's 
my notion." 

"I'll see about it, Cook. Is there any- 
thing else, Cook ? " 

"Ask him," said the mate, jerking his 
thumb at Jack. 

" Uncle's a deal too tender with her," said 
that hopeful. "He's not half the driver he 
should be." 

" That'll be seen to," said Mrs. Jenkins, 

During that week Jenkins drove them 
hard, for the driver was behind him. The 
Ballarat got what she wasn't used to, and 
" spun yarn and new seizings " was the order 
of the day. They got new booms. and the 
stuns '1 gear aboard; preventer backstays 
were made ready, and the rigging set up 
afresh. And the Windermere did nothing. 



But the crews were ready to fight ; for what 
was on had soon leaked out. 

*' I'd paint her," laughed Stokes — *' paint 
her like the ThennopyUe, and maybe she'll 
do the passage home in sixty-four days." 

" Go to hell ! " said Jenkins. ** Can you 
sail round me ? " 

*' I can," said Stokes, **and will." 

" Then if youVe a man come down on the 
wharf and do it," said Jenkins. 

And Stokes came down. He went back 
again in five minutes. 

"It's not to occur again now," said 
Mrs. Jenkins, with grim satisfaction, as she 
bathed Jenkins's face. ** I can't have you 
fighting, Edward, and you know that well 

"Did you see it?" asked Edward, 
dabbing his mahogany face, which had 
the veneer off in patches, on a towel the 
texture of a gunny-sack. 

" No ; I screamed and went below," said 
the tender Mrs. Jenkins. " And I tried not 
to pray that you would beat him." 

" I don't care if he does sail round me 


now/' said Jenkins> with thick lips and a 
lumpy smile. 

*'Then I do," cried his wife, fiercely. 
'' If I play whist, I want to win the rubber.'* 

And three days afterwards the two vessels 
cleared for London, the BcUlarai being some 
hours ahead of her rival. 

"We'll wait for you, Captain Stokes," 
said Mrs. Jenkins, politely. 

"Don't trouble to wait," retorted the 
Windermere's captain, who had two black 
eyes. " I can catch you easy enough if 
you don't hide." 

" Our side does the hiding, don't it } " 
said Mrs. Jenkins, swiftly. " But who gets 

By the time the full meaning of this 
dawned on Stokes the Ballarat was well 
clear of the wharf. 

" Never you mind," said Captain Stokes, 
and he revenged himself by general blas- 
phemy as the Ballarat made sail. 

Mrs. Jenkins had arranged for "more 
beef to the braces" by personally seeking 
out four full-sized failures as emigrants, who 



hankered to return to England. They were 
not sailor men, but that did not matter, 
though the shell-backs made their lives a 
burden to them by calling them the "old 
woman's watch," 

"While we're in company with Stokes," 
said Mrs. Jenkins, "let them keep on deck 
all day and sleep in at night. They'll be 
handy then to man the braces." 

But not a block cheeped now when they 
trimmed the yards, for she had seen to the 
sheaves being greased. She was for ever 
perking round to make small improvements. 

"It's that deck-house that's against her 
on a wind," she said suddenly. And her 
husband allowed that it was so. 

" But we can't shift it." 

"No," said the "Old Woman"; "but 
we needn't make it worse by shoving a 
lumber-yard on top. We'll have those 
booms down, Edward, and the for'ard 
hencoops. And if the cook puts anything 
up there, I'll know the reason why." 

About sundown, when they were headed for 
Bass Straits, with the wind on the starboard 

49 i> 


beam but gmdually working more aft» they 
were aware of the Windermere far astern of 

" That's good," said Mrs, Jenkins. *' The 
wind draws more aft every foot we go. We 
can choose our own time to let him try." 

" Not if we ain't fools," said Jenkins ; 
''he's goin' to get no chance if I can sail 
away from him." 

« I said I'd wait" 

" He thought that chaff, my dear," said 
Jenkins. ** For you've got to reckonise the 
fact she's the faster ship." 

" I don't give in to it," cried the old 

"He'll get all sorts of chances to catch 
up," said the mate ; " for we'll have a south- 
easterly wind when we're through the Straits, 
very likely." 

" That's true," nodded Jenkins ; " it often 
comes so." 

And they lost the Windermere in the 
shades of the night. The wind, which was 
now fresh, not to say cold, sent Mrs. Jenkins 
down below, and she soon turned in. 




" If I was the skipper Td run before the 
wind and lose old Stokes right off," said 

**But the old girl is bent on letting him 
try it," answered the mate ; "and what she 
says, goes. Jenkins has less 90ul of his own 
than ever when she's riled now. And you 
see if we don't have south-easterly weather 
in the mornin*." 

Sure enough, in the last hour of the 
middle watch, Cook's word came true, and 
" port mainbrace " was the word. At eight 
bells she was braced sharp up, and Mrs. 
Jenkins came on deck in a sou'-wester and a 
cardigan jacket. 

*' Have you slacked off that lee topmast 
riggin'. Cook ? " asked the old girl. 

'• No,'* said Cook, rather sulkily, for he 
couldn't endure a woman to know the 
difference between a handspike and a 

**Then slack it away, and get the men 
at the port braces. I believe we can go as 
close as the Windermere any day. Here, 
Jack, don't you turn in yet, I want you." 



But Jack knew her. 

'* You Ve got Cook, aunt," he said ; " and 
you've had your watch below." 

Finding her attention was engaged, he 
slipped down and met the skipper. 

" The missus wants you, sir," he said, and 
went to his berth. 

Jenkins found his wife at the binnacle, 
rubbing her hands. 

** Keep that main t'gall'n's'l just on the 
shiver, Brown/' she was saying to the man 
at the wheel, "There, now" (and she 
caught sight of Edward), ** there now, 
Edward, we're half a point nearer. What 
did I tell you ? But mind you don't get her 
aback with the topmast riggin' that way. 

And Brown spat in disgust. 

** What's it comin' to wiv the wimmin 
folk ? " he demanded of the elements. 

"Let's heave the log," said she; "I 
believe we're in good trim ; where's the man 
as'll sail round us ? " 

When the log gave them nine and a half 
knots she jumped with joy. 



"Think of that, Edward!** she cried. 
" Send a man aloft to look for the Winder- 
mere, Mr. Cook } " 

But it wasn't till eight o'clock that they 
picked the Windermere out of three vessels 
astern of them, and before then the wind 
drew so far ahead that they had to go 

" Hands 'bout ship ! " cried Jenkins. 

"What.^" said the crew, quite dis- 
appointed, "ain't the old gal goin' to do 

But she was down on the main deck 
seeing to the lee topmast rigging being set 
up with tackles. For she had got it fixed so 
that they carried the fall to the capstan and 
then stoppered it. The men prophesied the 
topmasts would go over the side. But there 
they were wrong, for Jenkins saw to that. 

And then to Mrs. Jenkins's rage the wind 
drew round till it was well on the port beam, 
and there died down to a light breeze. For 
this was the Windermere's pet weather. 
She drew up with them fast under a hot 
sun. They were now well through the 



Straits, and Flinders Island lay on their star- 
board beam. When they got their new 
course, the wind was more aft, but still too 
light for them. 

" But it suits Stokes," said the bitter Mrs. 
Jenkins, gnawing her long upper lip. " He'll 
be up with us by four o'clock. And he'll do 
it. Will he, Cook?" 

"I'm dashed if I don't believe he will, 
ma'am," said Cook. 

" But I punched his head," cried Jenkins, 
rubbing a lessening lump with a tender 

" You did," said his wife ; " he can't deny 

And by four o'clock the Windermere was 
within long hailing distance. 

Mrs. Jenkins tried to whistle for a wind. 
But there her native qualities as a woman 
denied her voice. She puffed angrily through 
soundless, distorted lips. 

It may be that the weather god took the 

will for the deed, or perhaps some man's 

piping appealed to him. For when the 

Windermere crawled up within a mere cable's 



length there was a black shadow on the 
water far astern. 

"Square away," said Jenkins, suddenly. 
In two minutes the vessels were running 
dead before the wind, and the Ballarat began 
to drop her enemy inch by inch, while Mrs. 
Jenkins shouted on the poop. 

The wind stayed in the north-west quarter 
till next day, and by then the Windermere 
was almost hull down. 

"Shall we drop him quite, Edward?" 
asked Mrs. Jenkins. 

" If it stays as it is," said the skipper. 

" Or if it blows harder," said his wife. 

'* If it blows harder we'll have to clew up 
the mainsail, my dear," said the skipper, '* and 
have the fore t'gaH'nVl off her." 

'You'll do nothing of the sort," said his 
wife; "you've got to drive her, Edward. 
You mind me. Don't you have any sail 
taken in while I'm asleep in the afternoon." 

Jenkins shook his head. 

" Very well, I'll see about it." 

She had to be content with that, for the 
wind grew heavy and the sea rose. 



" Mr. Cook, get the mainsail off her," said 
Jenkins, presently. 

Mrs. Jenkins took the glass and crawled 
three feet up the mizzen rigging, where she 
blew out like rags on a stick, 

** The Windermere is hanging on to hers, 

** I can't help it, my dear," said Jenkins, 
shortly. « 

** At least I think so," said his wife, " for 
I can't see very well. But she's clewed up 
her t'gall'n's'l now ! So I don't think so." 

** Well, clew up ours, Mr. Cook," said the 
captain ; ** we'll make better weather of it." 

*' For't'gall'n' halliards leggo," cried the 

And just when the sail was snug, and the 
men were down on deck, the wind began to 
moderate and haul into the north. 

The WiTidermere set her topgall'n's'ls and 
mainsail quick and began to draw up visibly, 

"Damn ! " said Mrs. Jenkins, with tightened 

"She'll be up with us by the afternoon," 
said Jenkins. 



And she was. 

" I thought rd catch you," said Stokes, 
through a speaking trumpet 

"Goto " 

*'Stop, Edward,'' cries Mrs. Jenkins. 
" Oh, yes ; say it while I stop my ears." 

When dear Edward had made his remarks 
the wind fell lighter and lighter, and what 
there was of it drew ahead. 

Stokes was on the Ballarafs weather 
quarter, and drew up slowly. He said things 
at intervals through his trumpet, and at last 
could get an insult across without one. 

"If it hadn't been for this choppety 
changey holy show of all the winds I'd ha' 
been round ye and away to hell — an' — ^gone," 
said Stokes, who was rather intoxicated. 

Perhaps the wind heard him, for it shifted 
suddenly, and the Windermere and Ballarat 
were both aback. 

*' Hard up ! " roared Jenkins. " Flatten in 
the head sheets ! " 

And Mrs. Jenkins attended to the spanker. 
In five minutes the Ballarat was braced 
sharp up. Stokes had to box the Winder- 


mere off and he lost half a mile in the race. 
But when he did get her on the wind he 
came up snoring through the water. 

" I said rd sail round ye," he cried, *'and 
now rU do it." 

"Turn up all the hands," said Mrs. Jenkins, 
in a pale rage. " What can we do, Edward ? " 

" Nothing," said the captain. 

And the Windermere came up on the 
weather side at a distance of a cable's length, 
and crept ahead. 

**Get up the stunsails," said Mrs. Jenkins. 

*' No use now," said Jenkins. 

And when Stokes was a quarter of a mile 
ahead he put his helm up and ran right across 
the Ballarafs bows. He squared away as 
he ran. 

" Don't let him, Edward," screamed Mrs. 

** No, by gosh ! " said Jenkins, suddenly. 
" Hard up there ! Mr. Cook, weather braces ! " 

And when Stokes was getting dead to 
loo'ard, with the wind on his starboard beam, 
the Ballarat ran off with squared yards. 

A collision looked inevitable if Stokes 


held on. He doubted for a long minute and 
then put his helm hard down and came up 
into the wind. 

Jenkins, who was white with rage, ran to 
the wheel and thrust the helmsman aside. 

" He's aback, Edward," yelled Mrs. 
Jenkins ; " oh, can't you pay him ? Can't you 
carry away something ? " 

" I can," said Jenkins. And he star- 
boarded his helm as though to run the 
Windermere down. The crowd on board 
her yelled ; they kicked their boots off ready 
to jump, and paid no attention to the roars 
of frightened Stokes, who wanted to box her 
off again. 

But when the Ballarat was within fifty 
fathoms of the Windermere's starboard bow, 
Jenkins ported his helm and came round in 
a curve. 

** Hold on everything that's rotten," he 
prayed ; ** look out for yourself, Maria, if I 
bring anything down ! " 

For he was running straight for the 
Windermere's jibboom. The men on her 
fo'c'sle jumped and ran aft 



" Where are ye comin' ? " screamed 

But Jenkins laughed. In another moment 
the crash came ; the Windermere's jibboom 
snapped off close to the bowsprit, and its 
gear got foul of the Ballarat's anchor and 
port cat-head. And down came the Win- 
dermere's foretopgallant mast. 

•'Hurrah!" shouted the Ballarat's crew,' 
as they cut the enemy's gear adrift And 
Jenkins brought his vessel up in the wind, 
backing his main topsail. 

" Mr. Cook, make the signal — * Are you in 
need of any assistance } * " he said, grinning. 
" And, after that—' We will report you.' " 

And this Cook and Jack did most elabo- 
rately, with all formalities, hoisting the code 
signal under the ensign, though they were 
near enough to hear Stokes bellowing on 
his poop. 

"And now spell out to him, 'Do not 
think much of your argument ! ' " said 

"Whats that mean?" asked Maria, 



'* He said his argument was that he could 
sail round me," cried Jenkins, wiping his 
brow. "He's a long-winded arguer, he is ! 
See him ! I gave him what for ! And now, 
after pleasure, business. Mr. Cook, fill the 
mainyard! He'll find his ship-carpentering 
come in handy now." 

They dipped their ensign and left Stokes 
at it. Then the wind, as if it desired to be 
obliging, drew aft and blew a good breeze. 

"We'll not see him again," said Mrs. 

"Maybe not," answered the doubtful 

" And if we do he won't try that game 
on again." 

Cook screwed his mouth up. 

" It's likely not. But if he did " 

" I'll see he wasn't let off so easy," said 
Maria, as she went below. 

And she certainly looked as if she meant 



"Our mate was a man, anyway," cried 

" What d')rer mean ? " said Luker, sullenly. 
" He wiped me over the eye with a stopper 
and nigh blinded me. If I 'adn't bin a poor 
man, Td 'ave 'ad the law on 'im." 

" You'd have 'ad thunder," said Hillyard ; 
and he turned to the others. They were 
sitting in the smoking-room of the Sailors' 
Home at Hull, chewing tobacco and the 
cud of dismal reflection, such as comes up 
when times are hard and the weather beastly. 
For Salthouse Lane outside was ankle- 
deep in slush, while rain and bitter sleet 
mingled upon an easterly wind fresh from 
the North Sea. 

" Bah ! shut the bloomin' door, can't 
yer } " said Hillyard, impatiently, as a new- 
comer came in. 



" I was shuttin' of it," said the other man. 
" Do you want me to shut it when I'm on'y 
'arf in, or outside, mate ? " 

**No, but it's that cold, it would freeze 
the toes off of a North Sea pilot, and Tm 
just out of the Mediterranean," said Hill- 
yard, more good-temperedly than he had 
yet spoken ; for he was evidently the boss 
of the crowd by right of strength and a 
certain savage temper. He spoke with 
decision, and there was the salt of the seven 
seas on his tanned face. Not a craft afloat 
but he knew her ; the paint and the funnel 
of a tramp were common inevitable know- 
ledge to him, 

" But I was tellin' you," he went on, 
''about Gordon, our mate in the Japan^ 
when we went to Reval with a mixed 
cargo, what Eyetalians calls a fritter mister, 
and come back with rickers. He was a 
man. Now, wasn't Gordon a man, you 
Thompson ? " 

And Thompson nodded, 

"You see what Thompson thinks," said 
Hillyard to Luker, ** and what 'e says goes 



with me, I don't care if 'e did bung up 
your eye. If so be Vd bunged up mine, 
rd say the same. 'Cause I knowed him 
long afore I ever clapped eyes on the 
JapaUy with her bloomin' old eight-ton-a- 
day and eight-knot-an-hour steady crawl. I 
knew 'im in the W. H. Smithy out of 'Frisco 
for Ilo-Ilo. And 'e was afore the stick 
with me ('e 'adn't no second greaser's ticket 
then), and I'm telling you it wouldn't 'ave 
bin 'Tom's bound to Hilo' with us if it 
'adn't bin for 'im. I own that as a man in 
the fo'c'sle he was a bit of a sea-lawyer ; 
but then 'e 'ad eddication. I seed his sisters' 
photos, and the girls was daisies — quite the 

"But, as I was a-sayin', 'e was a sea- 
lawyer, and when he shipped in the W. H. 
Smith he took it into 'is 'ead as she warn't 
seaworthy, and was too deep, and he tried 
to get us to skin out. i 

'*Oh, but if Gordon 'ad the 'eavy 'and 
(when it was wanted, Luker) 'e ad a tongue, 
and he could make up any kind of a yarn 
as easy as make sennit, and 'e'd work round 



of a man before 'e knowed it, and 'e'd 
enough brass about 'im to sheet a cruising 
frigate with. 

'* Says 'e, one day, as we squatted in the 
fo'c'sle of the W. H. Smithy for we went 
aboard that time three days afore she sailed, 
hell itself not being fuller of devils than 
'Frisco was of sailors, and the skipper being 
noways scared of our skipping. Says he — 
Gordon, I mean — * This bloomin* old 'ooker 
is a doomed craft, mates.' 

** ' 'Ows that?' I arsts 'im, for 'e spoke 
serious, and serious 'e looked. 

"'She is,' says 'e ; 'she's that deep, and 
they've got her by the 'ead now. And at 
this season we shall get it stiff from the 
north-east, and the seas out yonder, when 
it do blow, why, they're short and steep, 
and she'll dive, and, what's more, she'll never 
come up no more.' 

" ' You believe it } ' says a Dutchman. 

*• * I do, solemn,' says Gordon. ' I met a 
man as was shipmates in her on'y yesterday ; 
and I says to 'im, " I'm in the W. H. 
Smithy'' ^xadi 'e says, **Do you know her?" 

65 £ 

^^^^^■IMP I m 


And of course I answers, " No, what's 
wrong ? " He screws his face up and says, 
" Well, she's rather a wet ship." " Wet, 
is that all ? " I answers, and then he says, 
^' She's worse than the Leander as washed 
over and killed more than seventy men in 
five years." And, what's more, I believe 
'im, and I'm going to sling it, and if you 
bloomin' fools likes to go on a survey of 
the North Pacific deep water soundings, 
you may.' 

" That was the way Gordon slung it at us. 
And next day he gives us more. When I'd 
got to know 'im I believed as the man 'e'd 
met was never signed on no ship's papers. 
For the matter of that, I reckon he never 
met no one, nor ever 'eerd tell of the nature 
of the old hooker. 

'* But, Lord, 'ow he did pile it on, and 
before we knowed it we'd all got a scare, and 
we funked the very notion of going to sea in 
her. You know, you chaps, 'ow it is with 
men. After all, we're on'y like sheep, that's 
my notion ; and I've worked with sheep in 
Chile up beyond Santa Rosa de los Andes, 



where you started in my time for the Cumbre 
Pass over into the Plate. 

" So there we was in a panic, so to speak, 
and when Gordon says * skip ' one night, 
why, we was like kids at school, and over the 
side we tumbled, 

" And who d'ye think we jostled agin but 
the skipper ? 

" * What's all this ? ' 'e roars, for e 'ad a 
voice, though not so bad in 'is nature for an 
American shipmaster, 

"And we shoves Gordon in front, and 
'e lets out as we weren't on, and the skipper 
gets mad, aid says, 'Oh, you ain't, ain't 
you ? " And away 'e goes, and we goes into 
Brown's on the Front for a drink. And when 
we'd 'ad about three a policeman comes in, 
and then more ; and the end of it was about 
twenty took us off to the * 'Ouse of Correc- 
tion,' where they corrected us on plank beds 
and skilly and cocoa for forty-eight hours. 
And they takes us on board with the irons on 
our 'ands, Mr Billy Gordon among us. 

" Laugh, you bet we laughed. It was a 
mighty fine joke, and Gordon, 'e goes at the 



'ead of the percession, walking vety proud, 
but making the bobbies die of laughing. 'E 
was a joker, and didn't mind it a bit. 

*' So we came on board, and the skipper, 
in his shore-going toggery and an 'igh 'at, 
gives us what-for in the perlitest way, making 
as if we was saloon passengers. And Gordon 
says, ' Much obliged,' just as a gentleman 
might. For, as I said, he was eddicated, and 
his sisters was good to look at — quite the 
lady, both of them. 

" And out to sea we goes. 

'* ' You mind your bloomin' stops,' says the 
old man, *and bygones is bygones. Vou 
was all skippers a while back, but I'm skipper 
now, and I'll skip you if you ain't good and 
smart. So now then, my bullies, you can 
turn to. Calashee watch till we gets outside 
the Gate.' For we lay off Goat Island 
another forty-eight hours. 

" You'd 'ave thought Gordon would 'ave 
took it bad, being so euchred. But no, 'e 
didn't I don't take no back seats when 
sailorizing is on, not with no man, bar that 
I'm not so quick as I was; but Gordon — 



Billy we called 'im then — was up to my mark 
at everything, and over it on navigation, for 
that I know'd nothing of. And 'e was as 
quick as any cat, Til say that ; aloft as in jaw. 
And no man could best 'im with his tongue. 

" Howsoever, we 'ad a good time for about 
three weeks, though the wind was light ; and 
then it breezed up from the nor'-nor'-east, and 
it began to look bad, She steered like a 
'bus on a greasy road, and never a man but 
funked his trick at the wheel, till one day — 
and it was bad that day — Billy Gordon was 
takin' her, and I had the lee wheel. 

" • Steer small,' says the mate, a bit of a 
hard nut, and Billy answers 'im, — 

** ' If any man can steer small with *er 
before the wind, Td like to meet 'im, sir,' says 
'e, quite civil and anxious. 

'• * Don't give me any back talk, sonny,' 
says the mate ; and then the old man comes 

" * What's that, Gordon ? ' 'e arsts. 

" * I said, sir, as no man could steer 'er 
small before the wind and a 'eavy foUowin' 



*' ' I can/ says the old man, for 'e'd bin 
'aving 'is morning, and was feelin' good. 

"And with that Gordon steps out a bit 
perlitely, and the skipper takes 'er from 'im ; 
and Yates, the mate, lookin' as black as the 
nor'-east quarter, took the lee wheel. 

'* Gordon comes and stands by me, and 'e 
damns my eyes quite for smilin'. 

" * Look solemn, you bloomin' idiot,' says 'e, 

" And solemn I looked, though the old 
man was giving her twice the wheel that 
Billy give er. And though he got 'er at last 
fair in 'and, 'e 'ad two points off each way, 
and no nearer for his life could 'e get her, 
though 'e fair sweated. 

'* Presently 'e turned to Yates. 

" ' Would you like to try, Mr. Yates ? ' 
says 'e civil. But Yates was quite sober, and 
'e was riled at the skipper givin' 'imself away, 
and 'adn't no notion of doing it 'imself. 

" ' Thank you, but no, Captain Greer,' says 
'e, and with that the old man gives the wheel 
up to Billy, who got her a deal closer than 'e 

*'And that night it blew a snorter that 


lasted full thirty-six hours. Some of you 
chaps know what it was like, and some of you 
don't. But the truth is, she was deep, and a 
bit by the 'ead, and when she plunged, there 
was the same 'eavy feelin' as a ship with half- 
a-dozen feet of water in her, 

"The second night was worse than the 
first, and never a man turned in. Leastways, 
no man took more'n 'is boots off. Though 
what good, I dunno. If so be she W done 
an Atalanta, we'd 'ave been left, for nothin' 
could 'ave lived in the sea. It was get 
through or bust, and it looked more like 
busting, I must say. For when they could 
'ave 'ove her to, they didn't. 

** Billy and me stood most of the night just 
aft of the deck-house, and with us was the 
bo'son's mate. I never seed anyone so 'appy 
as Billy was, for the worse it got, the more 'e 
cheered up. 

" * Let 'er rip,' says 'e, ' there ain't nothin' 
like excitement. It'll be the death o' me 
one of these days. What cheer ! go it, my 
beauty ! ' 

" * O, dry up,' says the bo'son's mate, who 


'ad the fear o' God in 'is 'eart. ' Shell go, 
she'll go. And this time. Oh, Lord ! ' 

" And down went the W. H. Smith with 
a plunge that made me a bit sick. And she 
took it in over the 'ead, solid green it was, 
and it came over from the topgallant fo'c'sle 
three foot deep, roarin' like a cataract 

" The skipper yelled out from the break of 
the poop, and the bo'son's mate crawled aft, 
hanging on to the rail. 

" * Get a couple of canvas bags and oil,' 
says the old man, ' and sling them over for- 
ward from the cat'eads.' 

** * Yes, sir,' says the bo'son's mate. And 
me and Billy helps him. 

'* ' Who's going to bell the cat'ead ? ' says 
Billy. * For the man as goes on the fo'c'sle 
'ead takes 'is bloomin' life in 'is 'and.' 

" * Yes, that's it,' says the other chap, look- 
in' pea-green by the light of the lamp in the 
bo'son's locker. 

*' And Billy laughs. 

** * rU do one,' says 'e. 

*' And 'e looks at me. 

" He forced my 'and, mates. And though 


I felt sick enough to believe that even a 
sailor-man's life was worth livin/ I says ' I'm 
on for the other.' And then the bo'son's 
mate looked a bit easier, and not so much like 
a Calashee in cold weather. 

"But I'm tellin' you, it was a pretty job. 
It came out all right for me, for we waited 
for a smooth, and, though it was as black as 
the Earl of Hell's riding-boots, I nipped up 
quick and got the bag fast, with no more 
than one small sea over me. But the way 
she felt, and the wind and the blackness, 
rather cooled me down. And though I knew 
Billy was close 'andy on the starboard side, 
I couldn't see my 'and before my face. And 
the roar of her when she rose was deafenin'. 
But at last, back I come. I found the bo'son's 
mate peepin' round the deck-'ouse, and 
when I grabbed 'old of the rail there, says 

''* Where's Gordon?' 

** And just then she yawed and caught a 
heavy one right on the port bow, and she 
rolled to port and then right over again. 
And near six foot of green water came over 



the starboard rail amidships and filled'^er up 
to the topgallant rail, and as she rolled again 
it went over the port side. I 'ung on the 
'and-rail aft of the deck-'ouse, and of a sudden 
I was caught round the waist by the bo'son's 
mate, as I thinks, and then, though I did 
feel as if the W. H. Smith was a clean 
goner, she began to recover, and got on an 
even keel, and rose again. I catches hold 
of the man as held me, and sets 'im on his 

" * Oh, Bill/s gone ! ' I cries out ' He's 
gone, he's gone ! ' 

" And the chap gasps. And then I seed 
it wasn't the bo*son's mate at all. It was 
Billy. He'd been washed overboard right at 
the cat-head, and washed aboard again when 
the big sea came over the starboard rail. 

** He tells me that quick in my ear. 

** * And where's Higgins ? ' 

**' Where?' says I. 

" But we never seed 'im again. The sea 

as put Billy on board took the bo'son's mate 

over. And 'e wasn't the only man, for the 

cook's mate went too, either then or later, and 

■ 74 


the mate 'ad 'is leg busted agin the signal- 

•' The oil forward did but little good. It 
made a bit of a smooth between the whiskers 
and the foremast, but not enough to stop the 
sea comin' in further aft thick and 'eavy. And 
the sea got worse and worse. 

** 'Them little bags is just like spitting on 
a burnin' kerosene cask to put it out/ says 
Billy. * I'm goin' to get the two five-gallon 
cans with the taps, and set 'em goin' 

" * How get 'em? ' I arsts. For Higgins had 
took the keys with 'im. 

"'Very careless of Higgins/ says Billy. 
But he burst open the locker with a big splice- 
bar, and he got out the cans and shoved 'em 
in for'ard, in what Eyetalians calls retreaters, 
and turned on the taps at a fair, good, steady 

" * Now I'd 'eard tell often of oil, and what 
it does, but I never believed it before. After 
Billy 'ad set it flowin* we never took a drop 
aboard, and the quarter-deck fair dried up. 
I went aft and stood under the poop-ladder, 


.^y o C. '1 UL'l 

toiicli-.'ind-o() when we put \ 

" 'Yes, sir,' says I. But 
about Billy, and I 'alf forgo 
Higgins was gone. 

**And about four bells ii 
watch we was quite through \ 
it, and the sea went down witl 
come on then. 

" But the bo'son was mad m 
his locker burst open and the c 

"He went aft flying, and i 
plain to the skipper. 

•' * Who done it ? ' says the o 
Billy, beiog then at the wheel, 

" ' I done it, sir.' 

** * Then, by the tail of the sa 
— saved the bloomin* ship,* say 
' I thought it was them bagrs.' 

(I r>. 


a 'ogs'ead of oil would smooth all that lies 
between the Cape and the South Pole. 

**At Ilo-Ilo, Billy skipped out, and he 
ooked it off into New Guinea, and *ad three 
years foolin' round. I met 'im again right 
'ere in Hull, and then *e 'ad his mate's ticket. 
We went one trip together, me bein' bo'son, 
to St Petersburg and back. And two years 
later 'e was mate of the Japan, and a thunder- 
in' good man as mate 'e was. 

" Work was what 'e loved, and when out 
of a job 'e was sick. At sea 'e was merry, but 
not to be played with by no means. Between 
this time and his last trip with me, 'e was in 
several lines, mostly in the Baltic, Mediter- 
ranean and Black Sea trades. '£ was in 
every port in the Mediterranean, and to 
Batoum and Poti and Kertch, and Novoros- 
sisk and Sulina and Galatz and I brail. But 
what I started out to tell you chaps was our 
trip to Reval this last time. 

" We left this 'ere place just in about time 
to get there when the ice broke up and there 
was still plenty of it round. But the o\A Japan 
was built for such work, and she ploughed 



through ice that would have stove the 
guts out of a common Mediterranean 
fair-weather tramp. She came back right 
enough, or mebbe I would not be talkin' 
here. But just as we came away from Reval 
most every one on board was queer. For that 
rotten disease they calls influenza was layin' 
'em out in Russia like the cholera. Before 
we'd been three days at sea, the old man, a 
thick-headed old snorter he was, was down 
with it, hollerin' like a man with delirious 
trimmings, and the third mate (she was a good 
boat for the officers, and 'ad three watches), 
he went down too. Criminy ! they was bad. 
I 'ad a touch of it. And for three days I 
wanted to die and get out of such a black 
world. I 'adn't no more 'ope in me than if I 
was in 'ell on a grid. Frying it was, and 'elp- 
less as a kid. Why, man alive, I cried ! And 
then the second mate 'e goes under, fair 
knocked out ; a rag of a man 'e was at 'is best, 
but no more in 'im when 'e 'urt himself than 
in an old soup and bully tin. So poor Billy 
Gordon *ad it all to 'imself. 

''You chaps, for all youVe mostly chaps as 


never saw real tall water, knows what a 
blasted 'ole the Baltic is when it is bad 
weather. It was bitter then, and a north- 
easter as sharp as a razor, that went through 
a man. There was ice about even then, ice 
in bergs, and small floes drifted out of rivers. 
And it blew at least three-quarters of a gale 
all the time. 

" So you may guess that poor Gordon 'ad 
an 'ell of a time on the bridge. What could 
'e do with all the rest down ? Why, nothin', 
as 'e said to me, but stick it out And 'e 
stuck it out like a man, as 'e was, and as I 
told you. 

"Says I to him, 'For Gawd's sake sling 
it, Mr. Gordon!' For I could see 'e was 
sickenin' for the fla But he answers 

"'And who'll be in charge of her.^" 
says 'e. 

" That night the fever got 'im. After 'e'd 
bin six-and-thirty hours on the bridge, with 
hardly a get-off for ten minutes all the while, 
he calls me. 

" ' I've got it at last,' he said ; ' now look 


you *ere, Tom, I'm not going off. They're 
all down, and none of yon knows nothing.' 

" ' I knows the rule of the road/ I told 'im. 
And he laughed. 

" * You think so, sonny, but wait till you get 
into the thick of it, and red lights and green 
lights as mixed as a chemist's shop, and your 
head '11 go. And so will the oXA Japan' 

" And 'e stuck on the bridge till 'e just 
couldn't stand. All the time the skipper was 
as weak as a kid, and would weep if the 
steward said a word to him 'e didn't like. 
And the second and third were real bad too. 
But I've my doubts if they was as bad as 

" For now 'e was lyin' on that freezing 
cold bridge, wrapped up in blankets, aching 
in every limb, and just 'orrid to look at. 
But 'e said, * Don't you touch me. Just you 
tell me what's ahead.' I stood there most 
of the time watching 'im and lookin' out. 
And according as I told 'im what lights there 
was, so 'e said, * Port ' or * Starboard ' ; 
and then I saw as my rule of the road would 
sometimes 'ave cured 'im and me and the 



others of the flu, and any other troubles, too, 
for that matter. 

" And now we was getting down to London 
River, where we was bound. But some- 
times I did think as Billy would go out before 
we ever got in sight of the Nore, For he 
couldn't hardly speak, and he looked just 
pitiful and like a ghost. But he was true 
grit, and never even moaned unless 'e slept 
for a few minutes. And all the time 'e 
should 'ave bin in 'is blankets, and even then 
it was a chance for 'im. And at last he 
fainted dead away, but not till I told 'im 
there was a pilot boat nigh handy. The old 
man was a river pilot, and so they didn't 
look for us to take one. But Billy says 
to signal for one, and he fainted as I rung 
the telegraph for them to ease 'er down. 

''When the pilot came on board, I took 
Billy in my arms — a skeleton 'e was — ^and 
carried 'im down below. I knew *e'd never 
get over it ; and he never did. 'E died in- 
side of a week or so, one of his sisters wrote 
and told me. She was a regular lady, and I 
kept *er letter by me a long time, until I got 

8i F 


drunk and lost it. But if I did, it couIdn^t 
be 'elped, and she sent me Billy's likeness. 
He was what I call a man, and not a thing 
in the shape of a man. 'E could 'it 'ard, 
and swear 'ard, and, at the right time, drink 
'ard ; but 'e knowed 'is work as few blooming 
officers knows theirs. And, when ninety- 
nine men out of a 'undred would 'ave caved 
in, 'e stuck there and done 'is duty ; knowin*, 
if a man could know, as it would be 'is death. 
A man, I say, he was. And if 'e did wipe 
you over the 'ead with a stopper, I dessay 
you desarved it, Luker." 

" I dessay, too," said Luker. " I never 
said as 'e wasn't a good man. It takes a 
good man to 'it me." 

" I done it myself," said Hillyard. 

'* Well, did I hever say you didn't ? " asked 
Luker. ** But there ain' no other bloomin' 
swine in this room as can say the same." 

As they were all sober, and mostly Dutch- 
men, nothing came of the challenge. 

*'Hark! don't it blow?" said one. And 
the deadly north-easter roared down the 
dismal street. 



The Acapulco, a clipper-built barque of 1560 
tons register, was homeward bound, and a 
good bit to the nor'ard of the Horn. The 
season was coming well on to spring in those 
latitudes, that is to say, it was September, 
and the Acapulco had come booming with 
squared yards between Cape Horn and the 
Diego Ramirez Islands. But no sooner was 
she headed for the north-east than the 
weather changed, and ripped out into an un- 
expected north-easterly snorter, with heavy 
rain accompanying it. And with the rain 
came a little sharp sleet to sting up the men 
and make them growl. Yet for all that, as 
the barque lay over on the port tack, she 
meant getting home, and swashed through 
it at a good ten knots an hour, taking in 
heavy seas every now and again, some 
of which came through the scuttle of the 



foc'sle head and dripped upon the salty 
crowd below. 

'' Ain't she just a bloomin' hog," said Jack 
Husband, as he prepared to change his soak- 
ing toggery for the third time that day; 
'* she don't know when she's had enough." 

" There's more than the old Acapulco like 
that," grunted Jim Graves, who was for ever 
digging his knife into some one, though he 
favoured more especially the man who had 
just spoken. " When some of us gets the 
pavement under our 'oofs, it'll be mighty 
chancy walking. And all for not knowing 
what's enough." 

" You boil your head," retorted Jack, "get 
into a sack, do, and dump your ugly carcass 
over the rail You've as much jaw as a 
sheep's head, and you ain't worth so much, 
no, not by the price of it." 

And just then, as luck would have it, to 
spoil an interesting conversation with good 
promise of a row in it, the mate sang out, 
" Starboard main-brace," and the word was 
passed forward to the foc'sle where the men 
were taking shelter from the rain. The 



watch streamed out on deck in gleaming oil- 
skins and trimmed the yards. But it was 
mostly "a dry pull," for they hardly gained 
an inch. And dry pulls sharpen up the 
men's tempers, if they do nothing else. 

Just after supper, in the second dog-watch, 
Graves and Husband got at it again. For 
the supper had been a feed bad enough to 
sicken a pariah dog, because the galley had 
been swept clear in the afternoon by a heavy 
sea. Every one was savage, but these two 
were the champion grumblers of the ship. 
They were antidotes to each other in a mea- 
sure, and acted as safety valves. 

" Did you ever see or taste or smell such 
ogwash of coffee ? " asked Graves. ** What 
kind of a ship is this, any'ow ? " 

" It's like a penitentiary, ain't it ? " shoved 
in Husband, seeing his chance. '' Bbtmebbe 
you'd like cocoa better." 

And Graves growled angrily, for he had 
been jugged in San Francisco the voyage 
before for assaulting the police. 

"It warn't the penitentiary ; it was the 
'Ouse of Correction," he muttered. 



" Ah, you see, /didn't knowthe difference," 
was his enemy's retort. " There's some men 
as ought to stay at home and be fed pap 
with a spoon. The Sailors' Home is about 
as near the sea as some men ought to 

** It*s better than Jackson's Boarding 
'Ouse, you can bet on that," said Graves. 

And then the whole watch argued soberly 
the whole subject of Homes versus Boarding 
Houses, until two bells. 

But then another row began. 

"What's that you say about mugs in 
Well Street Sailors' 'Ome ? " asked Graves, 
bristling up. 

** I said as I didn't want to drink out of 
mugs like a kid," answered Jack Husband. 

**They don't use no mugs there," said 
Graves, '* they use cups." 

And Husband sneered. 

** Gah'n. I tell you it's mugs, and more'n 
that, they sleep you in boxes up an iron 
cage. And a pretty kind of a doss-house. 
It's most like a gaol as / knows of." 

But that did not touch Graves at all. He 


was far too keen about the mugs to mind the 
implied insult. 

They went off into the argument like two 
rival bulls in one paddock, and appealing for 
supporters, each got so many that mere 
weight of opinion could not settle the point. 
Then they applied the deductive method. 

'•It ain't likely as they'd give mugs to 
men, now is it? "asked Graves, defiantly. 
"They'd give 'em to kids. Now what I 
want to know is, would they give 'em to 
sailormen ? No, it ain't likely. Why, men 
would smash 'em. I would, you bet." But 
Husband met his argument by violating his 
own prejudices. 

** I ain't got no bloomin' objection to mugs 
as mugs," said he. " It's only as I think they 
believes 'em cheaper." 

" What ? " asked Graves, " you don't mind, 
you? You're a liar, that's what you are." 

" I ain't no liar, and don't you call me so," 
cried Husband. 

And then Graves fell into the fallacy of 
particular induction, by declaring because he 
himself objected to mugs all men must 



" But," said Husband, " you might as well 
say that because you don't mind going to 
gaol, all men don't mind." 

This roused Graves to such a pitch of fury 
that nothing could sooth him but being 
allowed to tell the whole entire story of the 
fight which led to his temporary seclusion in 
the House of Correction in San Francisco. 

" And I did object to being jugged, and it 
wam't me as started the bloomin' row on 
Sacramento Street," said he, irrelevantly. 
•* And if I did object to bein' in, why, your 
bloomin' hargument ain't worth shucks, and 
you're a liar, that's what you are, as I said 

And he added some remarks which im- 
plied, not wholly remotely, that Husband 
was something much worse than a son of a 
sea-cook, and the descendant of swine. The 
result of this was obvious, there was only 
one answer. 

" Take that," said Husband, and he smote 
Graves upon the nose. They rose up and 
fought, and fell down and struggled, and 
some of the crowd said, ** Part 'em," and 



some said, " Let 'em fight." And they were 
allowed to struggle till both got mauled, and 
nobody was best man. 

When peace was at last restored, Husband 
went in for a long and rambling induction, 
and showed that in most Homes cups were 
known to be used. And that, therefore — 
but just then eight bells struck, and the 
bo'son piped, ** Hands shorten sail." 

For it was breezing up very heavily and 
even the reefed foresail was too much for the 



Two men were sitting on a wooden seat and 
staring out over the Humber. Their point 
of vantage is one well known at Hull, for 
there is a flagstaff there and many seats, and 
one can spy the whole river and New 
Holland at the other side, and the vessels 
and tugs going up and down on the swift 
tide betwixt the Spurn and Goole. 

Suddenly one of the men pointed with his 
finger at a vessel hanging in the stream. 

" You see that barque, Bill ? " he said. 

" Well, and what of her, Ben ? " 

**Why this," said Ben solemnly — **But 
first where does she hail from ? " 

" I should say she s a Nova Scotian/* said 
Bill. '* It's hobvious." 

Ben nodded. 

** She was built at Halifax, and she's come 


to Hull, and it's my opinion she'll end in 
Hell. And from Hull, Hell and Halifax, 
good Lord deliver us ! " 

" And what for ? " asked Bill. 

** She's owned by a widow woman," said 
Ben earnestly, ** wot never had no luck — not 
with her husband nor nothing. I knowed 
her out there, and she's always in black, and 
comes aboard, and it's agin the rights of 
things for her to do that same, and give the 
crew the hump with such a black send-off." 

Bill snorted. 

** You're as full of superstitious rot, Ben, 
as a cat You believe in Lapland witches, 
and in Finns, and in Flying Dutchmen, and 
in every foolishness as ever got sailormen 
laughed at ashore." ^ 

"And why not — why not?*' asked Ben 
gloomily. '• I tell you I've seed the Flying 
Dutchmen ; and as to Finns, in my last ship, 
her as I skinned out of here, there was a 
Finn, and if he was sulky the wind was foul, 
and if he was pleased it was fair." 

Bill, who was a cockney, cured in New 
York, gave a snort, and pulled a plug of 



black cavendish out of the breast-pocket of 
his monkey-jacket 

" Mebbe he wanted to get there, matey," 
he said. " Now, suppose you was just dyin' 
for a chew, and I kind of offered you this 
yer plug ; you d smile, wouldn't you ? And 
then, if I said, ' No, you don't ! ' and planted 
it again in my pocket, you'd look mighty 
sick, wouldn't you ? " 

Ben turned and stared at him. 

"What are you getting at, with all this 
foolishness about terbacker ? What's that 
to do with Finns ? " 

" Why, this," said his mate. " What I'm 
saying, and if youll just dry up and listen, 
you'll see, is this. That it wouldn't be your 
bloomin' smile or your sick looks as'd make 
me give it or not give it, but my giving it or 
not giving it as would make you look sick or 

Ben shook his head at this laborious logic. 

"Well, and what the blazes has all this 
rigmarole about a chew to do with Finns and 
wind ? " he asked pityingly. 

"Can't you see as how the Finn might, 


just as well as any hother man, look black 
with a contrary breeze, and pleased when it 
was fair ? " Bill retorted. 

But Ben shook his head again. 

" It ain't no argument." he said, " for as I 
told you when he turned sulky, the wind 
changed. I could bring you ten men, not to 
speak of a cook, as would take their oath to 
it in any court of law. And I wasn't guffing, 
anyhow, about Finns or any other kind of 
Dutchmen, nor of Dagos, but of a widder 
woman in black coming to see a ship out of 

Bill looked rather mollified as Ben did not 
insist on the Finns. 

"Well, I'm with you there," he said; 
"but then women is bad luck anyway, 
black or white. I was yarning with a 'bus 
conductor the other day, and he says, 
•What's coming to the women I don't 
know. They won't put their 'and to a 
thing the same as their mothers, and 
some thinks they can drive a 'bus.' 
That's what he said, and it stands to 
reason a 'bus conductor should know a lot 


places," he said earnestly, 
what call have they to own 
seem natural for a womai 
No, it doesn't, of course, 
the wife of a captain if she 1 

** I knowed a captain's v 
him proper," said Bill. ** 1 
the mast afterwards, and 
I've heard him spin us a cuf 

Ben reached out his h 
extracted the plug of tob 
coat, and having torn off a 
his teeth, returned it. 

" And what was the yam 
his eyes followed the bar 
started the talk, round the 


But the chief thing he and others hung on 
to for getting more than his pay, was what he 
called the gold mine of Kertch Bar — " 

Ben shook his head. 

"That won't do," he said, "for I know 
better than that. Kertch ain't in the Baltic." 

" Where is it, then ? " asked Bill defiantly. 

" It's in the Black Sea or thereabouts," 
answered Ben vaguely. 

"Black Sea or Baltic is all the same to 
me," said Bill, "as I've never sailed in 
neither, and never will, if I knows it. But 
I'm telling you. He called it the Kertch 
Bar Gold Mine, and 'ow they did 'ave the 
owners was just a treat. For you see it was 
just this way. If I don't know Kertch, why, 
I may be wrong in small particulars ; but 
the chief thing about it is its beastliness and 
its bar. And the way that bar shifted was a 
fair miracle. Trainer was his name, the 
name of this 'ere skipper, and he said that, 
accord in* to what the owners thought of it, 
the bar walked from this side or that, and 
just plumped itself down in the fairway. 
And the pore harbour people, they was 


and then it was telce;r<ipHin' 
slic'd took the L;Toiind and nui 
And out comes lighters, and t 
then tugs, and they pulls, and 
'eaves 'er off and fills her up 
times a skipper would be that 
get stuck twice running, and th 
out the vessels with the least 
that was no manner o' use, : 
said, and laughed when 'e s; 
was that treacherous as to r 
night and shove a two-by-four 
and dry. And, as you may { 
Kertch Bar got a bloomin' b< 
if it hadn't been that they '{ 
owners would have seen Kertc 
And some did, but the resist 


" * I darsn't do it this trip/ says one. And 
a pilot as belonged to Kertch give him a 
liquon And bimeby some men as owned 
the lighters came in, and then some o' the 
'arbour authorities. The drink went off like 
hot cakes, and one took to daring the other. 

** * I dare if you dare/ says one. 

"'You'll blow the gaff/ says another. 
' Don't kill the goose what lays the golden 

*' But after a drink or two more the careful 
one's was guffin* about the times they had 
been caught by the bar. 

** ' Seven times I done it/ says one. And 
a pilot wot talked good English he said the 
one as 'd done it most was the skipper of a 
Swansea boat, who'd been on nineteen times. 

*' 'And good biz, too,' yells out another. 
* I know him. A good careful hofficer, so 
his owners say, but a bit unlucky at Kertch. 
And he's fair rotten with his money for a 
man of his sort." 

**And that night afore they'd done they 
was ready for hanything. Next morning 
there was nine vessels 'ard and fast in the 

97 G 


sand, and the telegraphs was working, and 
nine lots of howners and hunderwriters was 
cussin' their lucki and the shippin' papers 
had lots to say about the wicked kind of 
hanchorage there was at Kertch. And all 
the bloomin' time it was the coolest kind of 
put-up job as you ever see. 

"And that was the time as Trainer got 
left. And I'll tell you how it was. He had 
to take the money for that time and the 
time before, and he shoves it into a henvel- 
ope and sends it to his wife. It was full 
heighty-pounds ; if I don't misremember, it 
was heighty-two pound ten ; and 'e didn't 
care about keeping it by 4m, for 'e was apt 
to go ashore and get blind, as is the way with 
'em when no one's by. And fat and jolly 
and laughin' he gets on board and goes off 
with his height-knot iron box 'ome. But 
when he reached Hull — yes, this yer very 
port — he looks very sick. This was how it 

'* Trainer's wife was a thin, worrying 
woman, and that narvous with his carryin's 
on, and the wind blowin' — for all women, as 



you know, thinks it blows 'ard all the 
world hover at the same time — that she 
couldn't stand so much rhino in the 'ouse 
at once. 

" She thought as burglars from all parts of 
the country would smell it and come down 
'er little back street and crawl in and get it 
out of her mattress. So she takes it out o' 
there and sews it in her dress, and then she 
thinks she'll fall down in a fit and be robbed 
at a 'ospital, or that a fire would break out 
special and burn up the bloomin' neighbour- 
hood. And at last, with sitting up awake all 
night watching her gown 'anging behind 'er 
locked door, she got that scared that she ups 
and hoffs down to the howner's office ; and, 
going right up to the very 'ead boss, whom 
she runs agin in the alleyway, she allows as 
'ow she's Mrs. Trainer. 

" * And what do you want, Mrs. Trainer? ' 
says 'e, perlite enough. 

'* Then she let's him 'ave it, and hinforma- 
tion fair runs out of 'er. She tells him about 
the money as Trainer 'ad sent^ and she arsked 
him to keep it for her. 



"'Where did it come from?' says the 

** * From Kertch, sir — ^at least, I think so, 
but it*s in the letter.' 

*^ She 'ands it over just as she picked it 
out of her gown. 

"'And 'ow much?' says he, laughing, 
thinking, I guess, that a ten-pound note 
wouldn't make him nervous. 

" ' Heighty pound hodd,' says she. And 
never till harfterward did she remember 'ow 
»e jumped. 

"''Heighty pound! Why, that's a lot 
of money,' says he. And then, saying, 
* Excuse me just one moment,* 'e goes 

" He come back agin in five minutes, 
laughin', but still serious. 

"'We'll take care of it for you, Mrs. 
Trainer,' says he, * but I should *ave thought 
as 'ow you'd have been used to gettin' money 
from your 'usband by this.' 

" That was 'is trap, and the silly woman 
goes right into it like a sheep. And never 
knowed it till afterwards. 



** ' Oh, yes, sir,' she says smiling, * but not 
so much as this.' 

** * Then how much does he usually send 
from Kertch ? ' asks he, laughing again. 

" * Oh, never much more than fifteen or 
twenty,' says she. *And that's enough to 
make a lone woman nervous of losing it." 

** * Yes,* said 'e, showing his teeth ; * it's 
not nice bein' robbed. But we'll see no one 
but the owner gets this,* says 'e. And then 
she goes out, thanking *im profuse, and tells 
all 'er neighbours wot a nice kind man *e is. 

" But I guess 'e *ad gone out and *ad a 
talk with another bloomin' nice kind man. 
And they just whacked it to her proper, and 
then went on to find hout *ow it was that 
Trainer got so much rhino over his pay. 
For they knew that private trade wasn't 
nothing out there, and they didn't reckon 
Trainer had been speckylatin* in Kertch 
town lots. 

"And Trainer, who was comin' *ome, 
'uggin *imself about that lump of stealage, 
never thought so much as once of what a 
fool 'e *ad been to send it to her, just sayin', 

TilU i:cdK LOliIxGli* 


' Keep it till I get back/ Many a time IVe 
*eard 'im say he could go out and bang 'is 
nut on the steam winch or a bollard to think 
that six words more in his letter would have 
done it, and 'eM still 'ave been gettin' gold 
out of Kertch, But them words was never 
wrote, and when he gets into Hull River, 
afore he docks the howner comes on board 

'' ' Bad luck again this time, captain ? ' says 
'e, cheerful like. 

" And Trainer touches *is 'at 

" ' Yes, sir, we was very hunfortunate 
again so far; but we got off without no 
damage, not a strain,' says he. * And it's I 
that would be glad never to see Kertch 

" Going into the cabin they sits down. 

" * And is it so very bad ? ' asks the owner, 
innocent ' And what is the reason of the 
bar shiftin' so ? ' 

" * Hask me another, sir,' says Trainer, 
Mf you'll excuse me saying so, sir. But 
going in and out of Kertch it's guess work to 
the best of pilots. And what them pilots 
don't know ain't worth knowin'.' 



" With that he winks to himself, and as he 
told us, *e felt that clever *e could *ave split 
with laughin'. 

** ' It's a bloomin' nasty trade/ says the 
owner, kind of sighin'/ 

" ' It is that/ says Trainer. And seeing the 
man so soft and sweet, it just catches 'old of 
him that 'e might get a rise of a couple of 
pounds a month. 

** ' It is that,' says he, sighin' too, ' a 
bloomin' nasty trade, sir. And very trying is 
the Black Sea at times. It's not like the 
Mediterranean, where a man can live cheap 
and well.' 

** * Why no,' says *e, careless. • Then you 
don't find it a savin' trade any more than 

" * Saving I ' says Trainer, kind of sorrow- 
ful. ' It takes all a man's pay to find *im in 
clothes. I ain't saved two-pound-ten in a 

" And with that the bloomin' howner, a 
big, tall man, said Trainer, just rises off his 
seat and stares Trainer in the face like a 



" ' Then, Mr. Trainer/ says *e, in a voice 
like a lower topsail goin' out of the bolt ropes, 
''Ow did you make that hextra heighty 
pounds as you sent to your wife ? * says he. 

" And with that Trainer says the stuffin* 
was clean knocked out of 'im, and he felt like 
a hempty sack with nothing in it He just 
sat down. 

" * What do you mean, sir ? * says he. 

'' But the owner walked round to him. 

" * I means that money you sent* ome from 
Kertch,* says he ; ' and afore you go ashore 
I means to *ave the truth out of you.* 

'* He pulls Trainer's own letter out of 'is 
pocket, which the wife had give *im with the 
posh, and spread it out before him. 

" * Hexplain,' says he, very stern. 

" And at that Trainer give right in, though 
afterwards he grinds *is teeth at not thinkin' 
of a good tale. He could *ave said it was a 
legacy from a dead haunt or huncle, or *ave 
pitched somethin* to the man to shut 'im up. 
But *e couldn't think, and could only cuss *is 
wife, poor woman ! *E looks up at the 
howner standing there grinning. 



" ' The truth or the polis/ said *e. 

*'"Ow did you get it?* asks Trainer. 
Afid *e told him. 

" ' But the question is 'ow did you get it ? 
says the owner. 

" ' It was give me,' says Trainer, pluckin' 

" ' Who give it to you ? ' says the owner. 

" ' The lighterage folks at Kertch/ says 'e 
kind of silly. 

" ' Oho ! * says the howner, and *e sits down 
by Trainer. ' Now, Mr. Trainer,* says *e 
more kind, ' there may be nothin* in this, and 
I may be mistook ; but if you don't make a 
clean breast of it all, I'll give you in charge ; 
for that there's somethin' in this that I and 
the hunderwriters ought to know, that I'm 
sure, and know I will — yes, if I 'ave to go to 
Kertch and work it up myself.' 

" ' Do you mean it ? ' says Trainer foolish** 
like, and with that he give way and let it 

'* * But first,' says 'e, * you won't prose- 
cute ? Because if you're goin' to do that I'll 
say nothing.' 



" And the howner says, ' No, not if you'll 
tell the Bible truth/ 

" * Well/ says *e, and e* says when 'e began 
'e could 'ardly 'elp laughin/ 'in the first 
place there ain't nothin' wrong with Kertch 

" * What do you mean ? • says the owner. 

'' * I means just what I says/ answers 
Trainer, stubborn, * there ain't nothin* wrong 
with the bar. As a bar it*s all right, and no 
worse than other bars, and better a deal than 
some. It's a good steady bar — ^ 

*' ' And don't shift ? ' asks the owner. 

** * Not more than in reason,' says Trainer, 
* and according to a gale or the time of year 
just like any bother bar/ 

" * Then why did you get on it ?^ says the 

" * It was the pilots,' says Trainer, * and 
the 'arbour folks, and hus. It was a put-up 
job, that's what it was. And what we paid 
the tugs and the lighters and the pilots they 
give us commission on it. And that's the 
gospel truth, sir.' 

"And the howner chap was that surprised 
1 06 


he reached up for a glass in the rack and 
took a drink of spirrits neat. 

"'Well, I'm 'anged!' says 'e, 'and for 
years we've bin payin' for double lighterage 
and for hextra towage and all sorts of 
bloomin' things. Who started this 'ere 
racket ? ' 

"•It was started afore my time,' says 
Trainer, rather sulky again, * When I got 
there it was in full swing. And if you give 
me away as 'aving told you, my life's not 
worth as much as a loose bit of brasswork in 
a Danube port That's what it ain't. For 
they calls it the Kertch Bar Gold Mine, and 
gammons to hold shares in it.* 

'"I'll not give you away,' says the howner 
stem enough ; ' but I reckon you don't sail 
no more vessels in which I 'ave any 

And though Trainer felt sick at that, 'e 
knew *e ought to be jugged for conspiracy, 
as the bother told *im. So it was a let-off 
just to get the sack, even if jobs were tough 
gettin'. And that was the bust up of that 
racket I guess Trainer took it out of 'is 


wife, for 'e owned that she went to live with 
*er mother for a month when he got 'ome. 

" But 'e got no more vessels to command, 
for when it came out 'ow the Kertch Bar 
business 'ad been worked, the men that was 
sacked gave Trainer the worst kind of a 
name. And gradual he came down again 
to sail before the mast That's what a 
woman did for 'im." 

" It warn't her fault/' said Ben — " not hers at 
all. It was him that was to blame. Whatkindof 
a man is it to give a woman money to keep ? '' 

" Well, I can't keep none myself," owned 
Bill; "or else I wouldn't be looking for a 
ship. If I could find a woman wot would 
keep it and make it last longer, I'd take 'er on.'* 

"Not you," said Ben. ** A sailorman ain't 
got no more business to be married till he 
swallows the anchor than a woman has to 
own a ship. And as for that barque that's 
just gone out, you mark me, she'll be lost." 

" All along of the widder in black ? " asked 

•* All along of her," replied Ben, stubbornly. 

And they went up town. 


** Come, get out the spun-yarn winch," said 
Tom the foretopman to his mate. 

And Jack grinned as the lazy crowd 
approved from their bunks and chests in the 
foc'sle of the Winchester. 

** I guess it's not Sunday if Jack doesn't 
reel off a cuffer. Come, you brancher and 
climber, give it lip," said Tom. 

For Jack Gray was for ever yarning, and 
one of his long nicknames was "That re- 
minds me." A legend which he had never 
contradicted told how the Captain of the 
Loch Vennachar^ who was reported to write 
stories, had taken him on as second mate 
one trip, just to hear him gas. For 
though . he was then in the foc'sle, he 
had a second greaser's ticket and was as 
good aft as forward save for a real 
natural gift of insubordination which more 


than once landed him in the arms of a 

" It*s a sight too hot to work the winch," 
said Jack as he wiped his forehead. '' I 
haven't any imagination," 

"Then tell the truth for once," said 
Mcintosh, the oldest hand on board. " That 
last yarn of youm about the old BcUtle-axe 
was too much for me. I felt sea sick." 

" Dry up, you old humbug," said Jack, 
laughing, ** any one of yours would lay over 
the broadest of mine, acres on each side. 
But did I ever tell you chaps about Suther- 
land of the Commonwealth, the chap they 
called * Three-fingered Jack ? ' " 

And the whole crowd said, " No ! " 

" Well, this is true," said Jack. 

And the whole crowd said, " Oh ! " 

**You be damned," said Jack. "But all 
the same it is." 

"It was four years ago, or may be five, 
I'd just come back from the States where I'd 
been working on a farm, thinking I'd had 
enough of the sea. And I had till Td had 
too much of the farm, which is the way with 



sailormen. And that reminds me 111 tell 
you about that farm some day. 

" But as I was saying, I'd come home from 
the States, and being the very deadest kind 
of dead broke, all my folks were a bit chilly 
and gave me to understand that they had at 
last made up their minds I was no good. 
And the old man he stood in front of the fire 
and went on about my opportunities which 
I'd wasted, in spite of his hiding me when I 
was a kid, and the girls seemed to think I 
ate too much, and they sniffed at the smell of 
my tobacco. So I up and said I saw a fine 
opening for a bright young man in a slum 
down east, and I hooked it off to Sailor- 
town and tramped very lonesome all over the 
East India Dock. May be some of you 
chaps have heard of it, and have cooled 
yourselves on a big stone bollard by its 
gleaming waters." 

"Go on," said the outraged crowd, "and 
don't talk rot." 

" Well, never mind the poetry," said Jack, 
" you're uneducated, and don't see the beauty 
of it. Of course I could have shoved in 


somewhere, but I wanted a craft bound for 
Australia or New Zealand. And I had to 
wait till I tumbled across the Commonwealth^ 
whose skipper was Sutherland. When I had 
shipped they told me that he was one of the 
worst men sailing out of the port of London. 
For he was a bully and a drunkard. How-' 
ever, I didn't care. I guessed I could manage 
the passage in her any rate, and I meant to 
skip in Port Lyttleton. 

**We saw nothing of him till we were 
about letting go the tug boat, but then this 
blooming amiable historic character crawled 
on deck and began loosing off language that 
made the lady passengers fairly flinch and 
sent them below. He was a big strong 
beggar, but soaked in liquor and a bit of a 
wreck with it He looked more given to 
drink than when I saw him at Green's 
Home. And then he was civil. However, 
it was only in the beginning of his drinks 
that he troubled us. For when he was really 
under way he would retire to his own quarters 
and not show up for weeks. Only the 
steward saw him, and he had a blazing bad 

I 12 


time of it. When we were running down 
our easting he never came on deck for three 
weeks, the shirking old scoundrel. And we 
had a pretty bad spell of it too. 

'' There was a nice kind of a companion 
for him on board though, a Sydney woman, 
I forget her name, but she drank too. And 
they carried on shameful. Two old maiden 
ladies named Wilson used to go into hysterics 
about it, they were so scandalised. And 
there was blue blazes to pay, for they abused 
the captain to his face and cut the Sydney 
woman, and talked at her, till one day she 
flew at them and upset the pair over a hen- 
coop and then retired sobbing to lay a com- 
plaint before the skipper. 

** And the old man who was stretched out 
on the floor of his cabin said, * Eh, eh, what's 
that ? ' And then he slept again and mur- 
mured loving words to a bottle of square 
face. At least that's what the steward said. 

** But after that he began to recover a bit, 

and we knew we'd have him on deck. Only 

we didn't guess how he'd come, and in what 

shape, and if the mate had known he'd have 

113 H 


kept clear of him, you bet For the chief 
was an Austrian and as quiet as a sick sheep, 
with never a word out of him except when 
he worked the ship. 

'* But this day (I remember I was killing 
time on the main topsail yard cutting off 
seizings and shoving on new ones) we heard 
a devil of a how-d'ye-do down below, and a 
woman or two screaming. And then the 
mate shot up out of the companion in such a 
hurry as I've never seen. And after him 
came the skipper, purple-faced with passion 
and whisky, with a cutlass in his fist, running 
like blazes. The women folk on the poop 
yelled blue murder and the men turned white 
and skipped out of the way. And the mate 
fell down the ladder, screaming for help in 
high Dutch and low Dutch and English 
mixed, and as he scrambled to his feet again 
the skipper almost came on top of him. 

" * rU give you argument,' screamed 
Sutherland, * I'll give you argument.' 

" So then I guessed, what was correct, that 
they had argued over the bally arithmetic of 
an observation. For we heard after that 


Three-fingered Jack broke the slate over the 
mate's head before he got his cutlass. 

"I'd never believe the old man could have 
run as he did. But he wasn't more than six 
inches out of striking distance as they made 
up the starboard side to the forehatch. Then 
the mate caught his foot in a ringbolt that 
I'd often bashed my big toe against, and fell 
full length. Every one on deck let a yell 
out of him then, for the skipper raised his 
weapon and was just about bringing it down 
on the poor helpless devil's head. I leant 
over the yard and slung my marlinspike at 
him. But it missed. And just then the 
bo'son, who had been standing alongside the 
foremast, stepped out and hit the old man 
square on the ear with such force that he fell 
like a sack of flour. He never moved, and 
the bo*son grabbed the cutlass and hove it 

"It took him some time to come to; and 
the bo'son retired gracefully to the rear. 

"'What's this?' says Sutherland pre- 
sently. And then he sings out * Steward.' 
And after a bit he opened his eyes and 


staggered to his feet and went aft as quiet as 
you like. And what's more he never said 
anything about it. I often wondered if he 
knew what had happened, for he had another 
week's drinking then. 

" I heard the second mate, who was an 
Englishman and a good officer, speak to the 
mate : 

" * rU help you lock him up and take 
charge,' said he. 

" But Dutchy shook his head. He was a 
poor weak-minded fool without the guts of a 
new-born mouse. If it hadn't been for 
Graham, the second, we'd have run the 
Contfnonwealth ourselves. But Graham had 
grit in him and savvy and didn't really care 
a damn for the skipper. For that night in 
the middle watch, when I left the wheel at 
four bells he called me as I was going of! 
the poop. 

" * I want you to lend me a hand, Gray 
Go and call the bo'son.' 

" So I roused out the bo'son, and Graham 
gave him charge of the deck. Then we 
went down and together we took all the 


arms out of the racks in the cabin and locked 
them up. Then we corralled all the liquor 
we could find and locked them up too, not 
that it was much good to do it, for the 
captain had a private store, and we couldn't 
very well take that without the consent and 
assistance of the mate. 

"Up to this time I'd never come into 
collision with the skipper, although my mar- 
linspike nearly had But of that he knew 
nothing. Then it came round again for my 
turn for the first wheel in the middle watch ; 
it was blowing pretty stiff and we wore under 
fore and maintopsails and reefed foresail. 
The wind was well out on the port beam and 
there was a heavy sea running. 

"Just about two bells the second mate, 
whose watch I was in, came up to me. 

" ' I'm going to take the jib in,' said he, 
' so just keep her before the wind, and mind 
you don't let her come to till I tell you.' 

" And down he went off the poop. I ran 
her off till the wind was on the back of my 
neck, when all of a sudden I got a crack 
there too, which nearly knocked me silly. 



But as I looked round wondering what the 
blazes it was, I saw the skipper, who had 
crawled up and sneaked round behind. And, 
thinking she shouldn't be running before the 
wind, he hit me without even saying 'what 
the — how the — ,' or asking 'why I had her 
that way ? ' 

" By the Lord but I was mad. I was fair 
furious at being struck in such a cowardly 
manner, and without counting costs I let go 
the wheel and returned the blow with interest 
right between his eyes, blacking them finely, 
as I found out afterwards. He never 
reckoned I would dare, for he didn't attempt 
to ward it off nor to return it. He just said 
* Oh,' and ran for the companion which was 
at the forward end of the poop. I stood for 
one moment kind of silly, but I felt he was 
after a weapon, and if he'd tried to slaughter 
the mate for an argument, what would he do 
for such a jog between his eyes ? And I was 
mad too and clean forgot the men on the 
jib-boom. I jumped forward like a cat and 
got to the companion first and clapped my 
back to it. When he saw his way barred he 


squared up and made at me, but just at that 
moment she gave a heavy lurch and upset 
his balance a little and that gave me an 
opening. I landed him heavily right under 
the chin and back he went with his heels 
against the bucket rack and overended right 
over the low rail. I had disposed of him 
satisfactorily, and I ran back to the wheel, 
thinking that for one watch he wasn't likely 
to do any more sneaking round. 

" But during the few seconds that I'd been 
away from the wheel, the ship had come up 
in the wind and the sails were shaking a 
good one, and the second mate was roaring 
as he came aft. I hove the helm hard up 
and was only just in time to save her from 
broaching to altogether. As she filled, the 
second mate came up on the poop in a devil 
of a rage, as well he might be, asking if I 
wanted to take the masts out of her and wash 
the men off the boom. I might have justi- 
fied myself, but I preferred to take his jaw 
until I found out whether the old man had 
broken his neck or not Though I hadn't 
wanted to kill him, still, if he was dead, it 


might occasion a lot of trouble if folks knew 
how it had happened. 

"So I sang very small, and took all 
Graham said like a lamb. And that 
soothed him. He went forward and finished 
his job. But he was a good while gone, and 
I heard some talk presently on the quarter- 

*' When he came up on the poop he took 
a few turns up and down and then walked 
up to me. Standing with his back against 
the hub of the wheel, he took a look into the 
binnacle and asked : 

*' ' Did you see anything of the captain 
while I was forward ? * 

" * Why, no, sir,' said I promptly enough. 

*' * He must have been up here,* said 
Graham, * for as I was coming along the 
quarter-deck just now I stumbled over him. 
Mr. Schmidt is with him now, but Tm 
hanged if I don't believe he's croaked.' 

" That gave me the jumps. Thought I 

* I might be hanged if he is* 

** ' Or pretty near it,' went on Graham, 

* for he's cut bad and knocked quite stiff. I 



suppose he's been at it again and got paid 
for his soak.' 

" However, the beggar wasn't dead or even 
near it, and in the morning he turned up on 
deck quite sober and pretty quiet. And the 
strangest thing of the lot is that he did this 
time just what he'd done before when the 
bo'son outed him with that jolt on his ear- 
hole ; he kept quiet and said nothing, not a 
word. But till we reached Port Lyttletoa I 
wasn't easy. A man that'd come behind 
another and plug him as he did me once 
might do it again. And though maybe he 
really didn't remember when he was sober, 
he might remember when he got drunk 
again, for in the States I was partners with 
a tough who was built that way. And that's 
iust what really happened with Sutherland. 

" Perhaps it was the scare he got by his 
trip over the break of the poop that kept him 
off soaking, but he was as sober as a pint of 
lime-juice for most of the time till we neared 
the New Zealand coast, and he was not quite 
so uncivil. And he kept quiet with the dona 
from Sydney. Yet all the time I couldn't 



help having a notion that he suspected it 
was I downed him that night. For he took 
more notice of me than I liked. 

" And then, of course, just as we were in 
soundings and he wanted all his calf's brains 
he tanked up again and out it all came. 

'* The second mate's watch that night was 
the middle watch too, and lucky for me I 
was a bit behind at muster. For just as Mr. 
Graham was singing out our names the 
skipper rushed on deck, and they all knew he 
was mad drunk. I was just coming along, 
shoving my arms into my monkey jacket, 
when I heard his voice. 

" * Where's the swine that knocked me off 
the poop ? ' he roared. 

** * He s got a pistol, sir,' said one of the 
crowd to the second mate on the quarter- 

"And sure enough he had. 

" * What's his name, Graham ? ' he yelled. 
* I'll kill him as tried to kill me.' 

" * Nobody touched you, sir, it was an 
accident,' said the second mate, trying to 
soothe him. 



" • To blazes with your accident/ said the 
skipper, and then he remembered me. 

" ' Where's that swine Gray ? ' 

'* And he peered over the rail, trying to 
make me out in the dark. But I was well 
behind the mainmast just in case he did clap 
eyes on me and loose off his gun. 

" * Tell Gray to come here,* said Graham, 
but I knew what he meant by the tone of his 
voice. He didn't want any murder done. 
Now the silly goat of a Schmidt would have 
made mischief easy by really trying to get me 
to show up. He was dancing behind the 
roaring skipper like a poor devil of a dancing 
bear on a hot plate with a ring in the gristle 
of his nose. But when I heard Graham's 
voice I slipped out and went forward and got 
my own six-shooter and shoved it in my 
pocket just in case. 

"And no more than in time, for Three- 
fingered Jack came down on the quarter-deck 
and began to look for me in the crowd. 
Then he came for'ard, grinding his teeth 
and opening out with oaths that equalled 
anything 1 ever heard. For he was one of 


those men who invent new curses as they go 
on, and most ingenious he was. And I 
skinned up the fore rigging and lay low in 
the top till he got tired of looking for me 
and went back to soaking again. And there 
wasn't any killing after all, not a darned kill 
so to speak. Only I kept quiet and never 
showed up till we were in Lyttleton, when 
I skipped over the side and went ashore. 
Glad I was to slide out of the leaky, bug- 
haunted old hooker with a whole skin. I 
didn't much mind leaving my pay-day be- 
hind me, for I landed a job right off in a 
grocery store. 

** Graham saw me in the street one day. 

" * Did you really knock the old man out ? ' 
he asked. 

'* ' What do you think ? ' said I. 

" ' Well,' said he slowly, and as if he was 
considering it, *in my opinion you chose 
the wrong rail to dump such trash over.' 

" As he meant it, I told him the truth, and 
then he saw how it was I let her come up in 
the wind. 

" * But as it stood,' said he, ' you should 


have taken it even if he'd kicked you. Men's 
lives depended on it.' 

" And I guess he was right. What do you 
say, chaps ? " 

But the whole foc'sle divided and argued it 
out for hours, getting quite heated on ethics. 
They left the main point, however, to thrash 
out a well known and highly improper 
question of casuistry, very popular among 
seamen, which introduces a soldier, always 
an object of contempt in the foc'sle. And 
that was not settled even at eight bells. 



They called him " English Jim the Sailor' 
up at Afognak, in Alaska, when they were 
pleased, and that "derned mad Britisher" 
when they were angry. For he was the sort 
of man who makes an enemy of a friend and 
a friend of an enemy in the twinkling of an 
eye. He had the humour of a Celt, the 
devilry of a bad Indian, and the solidity of a 
true Saxon, yet no one knew who was his 
dearest friend; for if a man went out of 
Afognak for a week he would find J im camp- 
ing in the shack of his last great enemy, while 
his former partner eyed him sulkily from the 
other side of the bit of mud they called a 

" Can I get a job here? " he asked when 

he came ashore from the Mary Stubbs, a 

wretched little trading schooner belonging to 

Seattle. He spoke to the first man he saw 



sitting on a pile of sawn boards on the 

*' Mebbe and mebbe not/' replied the man, 
who was rather a sulky sort of hog, and as 
silent as they make them. 


" At the stickmula, likely." 

He used the Chinook word for sawmill. 
But Jim had been knocking about the coast 
for a good time, and understood him. 

" Or the cannery," added the man. ""Can't 
you smell it ? " 

*' You bet ! " said Jim. For a salmon can- 
nery has a very distinct odour down wind-—* 
so distinct, indeed, that foreign consumers 
would hardly like to eat the stuff if they smelt 
it, even without seeing Chinamen walking 
in it before it gets concealed in a can. 

So Jim got a job at the mill. He worked 
first with the shingle sawyer, and then at the 
lath-mill, where he undertook to make laths 
himself. In the process he lost his temper, 
and very nearly lost his thumb. He had to lie 
by for a few days, and then went wedging-off. 

" Great Scott ! " said he, " but this kind of 


work is work." But he did not like getting 
up early, and he made himself popular with 
the men and unpopular with the boss by 
trying to disarrange the whistle which blew 
at five o'clock in the morning to rouse the 
men out. He borrowed a Winchester rifle 
and bought some ammunition, and, getting 
up at four, he tried to shoot away the 
whistle from the top of the mill. 

'* What's that shooting going on so early ? * 
asked the interested town. But, of course, 
no one knew until one morning the whistle 
wouldn't blow. In fact, they found it lying 
on the roof. For Jim managed to hit it at the 
end of a week. It was quite characteristic of 
him that he didn't mind getting up early to do 
mischief. But he was given away by the boss 
seeing him with the rifle. He called to Jim. 

*' Say, young fellow, what are you doing 
with that Winchester ? " he asked. 

'* Oh, nothing," said Jim. *' I'm just taking 
it back to the man that lent it me." 

" Um," said the boss, and Jim turned away. 
But Mr. Reed stopped him. 

*' Are you a good shot, Atkins ? " 



*' Pretty fair, Mr. Reed," replied Jim with 
a grin. 

" Could you hit a whistle on a saw-mill at 
a hundred yards, for instance ? " asked Reed. 

" If I tried I might, sir." 

" Come up to the office and you shall get 
your money," said the boss. 

And when he paid him off, minus the cost 
of the whistle-repairing, he suggested that 
Jim might try the military life. But Jim 
didn't tell him that he had tried it, with no 
more success than managing to desert with- 
out being nailed. 

He went in as partner with a Sitcum 
Siwash, or half-bred Indian, named Tom, 
who did no work and only kept himself in 
exercise by thumping an Indian woman who 
lived with him. 

This displeased Jim until he found that 
the Klootchman really didn't mind it But 
one night Pete managed to get a bottle of 
whisky, which was strictly against the law. 
Then he tried to thrash Jim and got very 
badly broken up, although the squaw did 
hang on to Jim s neck while he was pounding 
129 I 


thunder out of her prostrate man. It 
sickened Jim, and having no money he made 
up to the night-watchman at the mill, and 
slept in the sawdust by the fires which were 
kept banked up all night. 

Then he went to work at the cannery, but 
the Chinamen didn't like him, for no Orientals 
have any sympathy with a practical joker. 
He thrashed one of them very badly, and 
got the bounce at once. He determined to 
return to San Francisco ; but when he tried 
it he learnt that his unpopularity with the big 
mills meant trouble for him, for they con- 
trolled all but one or two of the schooners 
that came into Afognak. He showed his 
discharges to one fishy skipper after another, 
and they shook their heads. 

"Well, then, let me work my passage 
down," he urged. ** I'm dog-tired of this 

** You've made it too hot and not hot 
enough," said Wash-tub Davis, a regular old 
whaler with a beard down to the pit of his 

** What do you mean ? " asked Jim. 


*' You ask Mr. Reed/* replied Davis, and 
then Jim tumbled to what was up. 

"I think it pretty low down to try and 
keep me here, Mr. Reed," he said, "when 
you won't give me any work." 

*• You should have thought of that before 
you shot away my whistle," said Reed, who 
had a long memory and no particular love of 
a joke. 

" Never mind," said Jim, " you can't keep 
me here." And he went down to the wharf 
again and palled in with the same loafer who 
had told him about work at the mill. 

"What do they call the skipper of this 
thundering old schooner ' Wash-tub ' for ? " 

" One of his men made a wash-tub, and 
Davis sold it to a Siwash for a dollar," 
said the man. " He's meaner than a yaller 

" I'll beat him, you bet," cried Jim. " I'm 
damned if I don't go down in his schooner 
and in no other ! " 

And that night he met some of the men 
of the schooner who were drinking. Jim 
borrowed a dollar or two on his bowie-knife, 


and set up the drinks for the crowd, the 
mate among them, 

"That skipper of yours is a daisy, ain't 
he ? " said Jim. " He won't give me a show 
to work my passage with you." 

" Did you try him ? " asked the mate, who 
was the only one in the lot who had been a 
deep. water sailor. 

Jim nodded. 

" ril speak to him for you," said Richards. 

" I wouldn't if I were you," Jim answered. 
And he told the man the reason. The mate, 
who was now very reasonably drunk, retailed 
it to the men, and they ** allowed " it was a 
thundering shame. 

** See here, tilicum,'* said Richards, hic- 
cupping, " you can come. We'll stow you 

But Jim cunningly made many objections. 

•* You'll get fired yourself," he urged. 

" What ! " roared the mate ; " me get 
fired? Not much, man ; I'm solid with the 
owners, real solid. And what I say goes. You 
bet it goes. And what's more, Wash-tub will 
go, and rU have the schooner myself." 



He drank again and almost wept. For, 
indeed, the liquor sold up in Alaska might 
make a brass monkey weep. 

" And you shall be mate," he sobbed. " I 
like you, that's what I do." 

So they carried him on board and laid him 
in his bunk and covered him up with fishy 
blankets. He extricated his head, and, with 
tears running down his cheeks, asked for 

" Here I am, old man," said Jim, who was 
sober and shaking with laughter. Richards 
grasped his hand affectionately. 

"You reckon Tm full, but I ain't," he 
murmured. "I'll remember." 

Next morning Jim was on the wharf again, 
and was leaning against the schooner's rail 
when old Wash-tub tumbled on deck. 

" Now, then, what are you doing here ? " 
he grumbled. "You get off. Sling your 
hook now." 

" All right, Davis," said Jim coolly. 

" Captain Davis, you tramp ! " roared 
Davis. "I'll have you know that I've a 
handle to my name ! " 


" That's good," said Jim insolently. " It's 
a dirty name and a dirty skipper to touch 
without a handle." 

And, stepping back, he looked out for a 
flying belaying-pin if one was lying handy. 
But Wash-tub only gasped at the atrocious 
insult, and, before he caught his breath, Jim 
was fifty yards away. He heard a gale oi 
blasphemy behind him which would have 
sunk a floating bethel or a missionary boat 
at its moorings, but he just sauntered off 
without even turning round. For he had 
taken in his man and knew what would rile 
him most 

He saw Richards again late that night, 
and, true enough, he remembered what he 
had said. But Jim looked melancholy. 

** I suppose you'll cry off," he murmured 
disconsolately. " I can see Wash-tub is a 
holy terror. I wonder that you chaps dare 
stay with him." 

" Dare ! " said Richards, *' you bet he don't 
tire me. For, if he won't take taffy, I just 
get mad too. I'll stow you away. But I 
didn't think you was the sort to be scared." 


Jim laughed 

** I meant that Td have to fill him up with 
lead," he remarked. 

And, as the devil was that moment upper- 
most, he looked as if he did mean it, which 
pleased Richards vastly. 

" You're all there, tilicum," he said ; " now 
you come down on board to-night about 
eleven and we'll stow you away. But you'll 
have to keep dark, for if you show up Wash- 
tub will haze you and haze me and make it 
as hot as hell/' 

" Right you are," said Jim ; "but I won't 
give you away, and if he bowls me out I'll 
stand the racket myself." 

The schooner cleared out next morning at 
dawn, and all the time the rest were working 
her out of the harbour Jim lay up in the 
darkest berth in the forecastle, and sniggered 
to himself to think that he was loafing. 

•* By gosh I I'm Wash-tub's only pas- 
senger," he said ; " but when I get down to 
San Francisco I'll have a joke with him." 

He lighted his pipe at the swinging lamp, 
and went back to his blankets just as the 


men came in. There were only two to each 
watch, and 6( these two were little good- 
tempered Finns with backs as broad as a 
boat. They came in laughing. 

" What's up ? " asked Jim of one of the 

"Why, there's Wash-tub gassing about 
how he's done you,*' said the man. " You 
riled him, you jest did: he's been tellin' 
Richards about your saying as he wanted a 
handle to his name. Those chaps up at 
Afognak had got it fixed up to make you run 
a sawdust-barrer afore they let you out." 

" They had, had they ? " said Jim ; " well, 
I've done them this time. Reed will feel 
sick. I'd like to fire his old mill for him ; 
he's a nigger-driver, not a man for white 
men at all. He loves a Chinaman better 
than a white man any time." 

And they discussed Chinese cheap labour 
for half the day. When the weather was 
fine there was little to do to the schooner, or 
rather there was so much to do that nothing 
was ever done. 

"A spot of white paint would ruin her for 


ever," said Richards. ** We*d all get kind of 
dissatisfied, and so long as she holds to- 
gether, why, she holds. And I guess she*s 

Jim found his life as a passenger not with- 
out its drawbacks. For one thing he was a 
very active young fellow, and staying in the 
forecastle was, as he put it, " nigh on to as 
bad as being in the penitentiary.*' Doing 
nothing and grubbing made him full of him- 
self, and he was horribly keen on getting to 
work. He almost begged Richards to let 
him come up and show himself. 

"He can't do anything but set me to 
work,** urged Jim. 

But when the mate was at sea and well 
away from Bourbon whisky, he hadn't such 
a great idea of the solidarity existing between 
himself and the owners. And though Jim 
was savage when he was sober, it was the 
other way about with Richards. 

** No," he said, "not by a jugful. What 

more do you want ? You're doing nothing 

and you're grubbing good, and lying on the 

broad of your back. And if you show up 



he'll know we're in it, and hell work blazes 
out of us all. I know him. And besides, I 
don't want to quit her for the rest of the 
summer. Then Vm going east." 

" You are, are you ?'* said Jim to himself. 
For he knew all about going east. The 
desire lasts till a man gets his money, and a 
few drinks, and then it's the money goes 
east, and not the man. 

But he prayed for a good gale of wind, in 
order for another hand to be needed. If 
every one was in trouble, and extra help 
needed, old Wash-tub wouldn't so much mind 
learning that he had another good man on 
board. Yet all the trip the weather was 
sickening good ; it didn't blow hard enough 
to blow the ancient stink of fish out of her, 
though now she was choked with canned 
goods. And the heat was great, and the 
insect life on board rampant Jim had all 
he could do to save his toes and his nose 
from the cockroaches, and certain other 
demons played havoc with his skin. 

One night when they were off the coast of 
California, running down before a light 


northerly wind which hardly stirred a heavy 
fog hiding the land, Jim could bear it no 
longer. Though he often loafed about 
for'ard when it was dark, he never ventured 
aft For Wash-tub was a light sleeper in 
good weather. Indeed, as he was half asleep 
all day on a rug spread by the wheel, he 
hardly needed rest at night. Yet now Jim 
went right aft in the beginning of the middle 
watch, and insisted on relieving the Finn 
who was at the wheel. Richards remon- 

'•Oh, go to thunder!" said Jim. "The 
old man is asleep, isn't he ? Then what's the 
trouble ? I must do something.** 

And, sooner than raise an argument, 
Richards let him have his way. But he kept 
the Finn handy in case the skipper did rouse 
out But the Finn lay down and went to 
sleep, and before Richards heard him old 
Davis was on deck in his stockinged feet 
Jim slouched his hat over his eyes, and Davis 
came and looked at the binnacle. Richards 
came up at that moment 

" It's a steady breeze," he said stupidly. 


** Well, and who said it wasn't?" was the 
skipper's polite reply. And turning round, 
he went below. Richards jumped to the 
Finn and roused him. 

" Go to the wheel," he whispered, and 
catching hold of Jim he ran him for'ard. 

" You're a pretty sort ! " he said, when 
they were for'ard of the mainmast. 

'* Let|^o ! " said Jim ; " he never tumbled. 
What's wrong with you ? " 

"What's wrong .?" asked the mate. '*If 
he'd seen you, he'd have disgruntled you! 
Go and turn in." 

And grumbling, Jim retired to the stinking 

Two days later they were alongside the 
wharf, and Jim skipped ashore without being 
seen. At Shanghai Brown's he met an 
old mate of his and borrowed a couple of 
dollars to treat Richards and the others 
with. He met them that night on Battery 
Street, and Richards looked particularly 

*' What's wrong, mate ? " asked Jim. 

** He give us all the bounce," said Richards. 


" I dunno what made him. He's a swine— a 
holy swine." 

But Jim made no suggestion of an appeal 
to the owners. He offered to stand drinks at 
the bar of the American House. He spent 
his two dollars before he left. 

Next morning he went down the water- 
front to try and ship in the Monowaz, which 
he had sailed in before ; and, as luck would 
have it, the mate told him to bring his bag 
on board at once. He went off to raise 
the stuff to get an outfit, and as he came 
away from the Oceanic Steamship Wharf, 
he met a gang of out-of-works whom he 
knew. He stayed talking with them, and, 
as he turned away, he saw old Wash- 
tub Davis come booming along like a 
rolling barrel. He caught sight of Jim, 
stopped, stared, walked on again, and, turn- 
ing round, came back. Jim looked at him 

" How did you get down ? " he asked, 

'* Down where ?" said Jim. 

" Down here ! " 



" What d'ye mean ? " asked Jim, staring 
him blankly in the face. 

'* I mean from Afognak," said Wash-tub. 

••Afognak," mused Jim. "And where's 

"Do you mean to say you don't know 
where Afognak is?" roared the old man 

"Why the devil should I know?" said 
Jim, pretending to be angry in his turn. 

" You'll be saying you don't know Kodiak 
next," said Davis. 

"What's Kodiak?" 

And Davis rubbed his eyes. 

"Ain't your name Jim, and weren't you 
at Afognak three weeks ago ? " insisted the 

Jim shrugged his shoulders. 

"You haven't told me where Afognak is 
yet," he remarked gently. 

" Well, this beats hell ! " murmured the 
skipper ; " if I hadn't known it wasn't possible 
I would have sworn you were the man." 

He walked on. But when he got about 
thirty yards off Jim hailed him. 


*' What cheer, Wash-tub ! " 

Davis stopped. 

" You wouldn't let me work my passage," 
said Jim, ''so I came down in your old 
hooker as a passenger. What's the price of 
tubs to-day ? " 

And jumping in a horse-car which was 
coming by, he left the skipper speechless. 



In the course of my travels and knocking 
about this world, I once found myself in 
Maryborough, on the Mary River, in 
Queensland, and being tired of the bush and 
station life, at least for the time, I shipped as 
able seaman in a small schooner of about 
forty tons, called the Polly. She was com- 
manded by an old stick of a fellow, com- 
monly known as " Soap-spar Jack *' — for he 
had once made a pile of money out of a 
claim so entitled — who was not averse to 
laying his soul in soak when he got a chance. 
In other words, he drank, and at times 
drank hard. 

When I took my traps aboard the Polly, 
she was engaged in carrying coal from Mary- 
borough to a place a few miles up the coast 
called Bundaberg, where there was a large 
sugar refinery, at which we discharged our 


cargo. After taking in sand ballast, we pro- 
ceeded to the Kolan River, there loading 
timber for Brisbane, at which we arrived 
safely. In fact, during my first trip in the 
little hooker nothing out of the way happened, 
for the skipper's getting drunk led to no par- 
ticular mischief that time, though it did after- 
wards, and we made fast again alongside the 
coaling- wharf at Maryborough after a pros- 
perous voyage of about three weeks. And I 
must say, to a deep-water sailor, who at that 
time had not done much coastwise work, a 
round trip in three weeks seemed very short, 
and getting among my few chums at Mary- 
borough made me think I had hardly been 
away at all. Of these chums, however, the 
only one I cared for greatly was a man 
named Sumner, who had worked with me 
on a station in the East Moreton district, and 
for whose sake I once got fined five pounds ; 
for I found a Chinaman, who hated him, 
kicking him when he was drunk, and there 
was trouble about it. But the only thing it 
is material for me to put down here is that 
we were very firm friends, and that he knew 
145 K 


the Queensland coast well, having a coasting- 
master s certificate. 

During our second trip in the Polly we 
had to lie for four or five days in the Kolan 
River, being bar-bound on account of a 
heavy south-easterly swell which had knocked 
up such a tumble on the bar that it was quite 
impossible to put to sea ; and when once the 
sea gets well up there, it takes some time to 
smoothe down again. So during the time we 
were idle the captain went up in the country 
to see some people with whom he was 
acquainted, and when he came back he 
brought with him some bottles of Queens- 
land rum. I must say that he was not 
exactly a solitary drinker, and was not 
greedy about the liquor, being quite ready 
to share it with his crew, which consisted of 
a boy, another able seaman, named Jack 
Finn, and myself. 

When the weather at last moderated we 
got out across the bar, and were soon bowling 
away south before a fine, strong northerly 
breeze, with our two fore-and-aft sails 
** winged out," or with the two sails one on 


each side. Now, in a schooner, this is the 
ticklish point of sailing, for one can be 
caught by the lee on either side with bad 
steering, and then over the boom goes. 
Especially when the wind is not very light," 
and it was not light in our case because, 
though the south-easter had blown itself out, 
the norther freshened all the time, as though it 
meant business. So the boy was not allowed 
at the tiller, and Finn and I steered in tricks 
of four hours each, except when old Soap- 
spar gave either of us a spell himself, and 
this was not very often. 

On the way from Kolan to Brisbane most 
coasting craft take what is called the inside 
passage through the *' Great Sandy Strait," 
which is a broad sound formed by Great 
Sandy Island and the mainland, for it is a 
shorter distance. Now the way out at the 
farther extremity of this sound is over Wide 
Bay Bar, or the Inskip Bar, as it is often 
called from the Inskip Light, which marks 
the entrance to Wide Bay on the mainland, 
and over the Bar is the only way out 

At eight o'clock on the evening of the day 


we left the Kolan River, I relieved Finn at 
the tiller. My trick would last to midnight. 
I looked at the northern sky as I stepped up 
alongside him, and I could see it was full of 

*' The best thing we could do. Jack," said 
I, ** would be to shorten sail now. There's 
no hurry to get to the Bar. The devil him- 
self couldn't cross to-night." 

Old Soap-spar overheard me, and spoke 
his word at once. 

**You mind your own business. I'm 
sailing this schooner, and I'll shorten sail 
when I've a mind to shorten, not before. 
You give me a call down the scuttle when 
you raise the Inskip Light. That's all 
you've to do." 

He added that we could not say what the 
Bar would be like until we saw it, and if it 
was breaking heavily we could bring up 
under Hook Point. For with the wind 
north there was no shelter in Tin Can Bay, 
the usual anchorage when bar bound. And 
with that the old man dropped below, to 
bring up, as I knew, in ** Red Eye Bay," 


anchored to his rum bottle, and Finn went 
with him readily enough. 

When the skipper tells a man to dry up, 
he has usually got to do it, unless he wants 
trouble, and I knew the old man couldn't 
stand contradiction ; though, of course, in a 
vessel like the Polly, and with so few hands, 
one is more familiar than on board a vessel 
with twenty men and brass-bound officers. 
So I shut up, and reckoned it wasn't my 

Yet I owned to be uneasy. There was 
too much liquor down below, and they would 
pay it a good deal more attention than was 
the right thing, unless we were brought up 
in safety. And the wind, which was steadily 
backing to the westward, kept on freshening 
and freshening, until the schooner began to 
dive and fetch the water in over the bows. 
It was hard enough work steering her. For 
now she began to get as wild as a hawk, and 
it was hard up and hard down all the time, 
until I was almost ready to sing out to them 
to relieve me while I got my coat off. And 
very soon I saw that if the Polly didn't get 


some of hers off, we might get in a devil of a 
mess ; so pushing back the sliding scuttle 
just at nine o'clock, I shouted to the skipper. 
There was no answer. 

This put me in a stew, I own ; and like a 
flash there came across my mind all that 
would happen if, as I feared, they were in 
such a drunken sleep that I couldn't wake 
them, I yelled at the top of my voice : but 
it was no good, and I cursed them for two 
beasts. The boy was asleep forrard, I knew, 
and I hadn't any hope of his waking, for it 
took a good shake to get him and his bunk 
to part company. OT course it was impossible 
for me to leave the tiller. After a few minutes 
I began shouting again, and then I stamped 
on the deck, and, reaching out, banged on 
the scuttle. It was all to no purpose, and I 
began to see that if anything was to be done, 
I had to do it myself. And just then we 
scooted past Elbow Point, and the Inskip 
Light blinked up, a little on the starboard 
bow, to tell me that I was only a few miles 
from the Bar ; and the way it grew and shone 
and shone brighter showed how fast we were 


running, even if I hadn't known the way the 
old schooner walked through it with a freshen- 
ing gale astern of hen The Bar, I knew, 
must be little else than a raging hell of waters, 
that I should never care to face with all hands 
on deck, even if I could have run for it with 
the wind in the quarter it was ; and now I 
began to laugh a little wildly to myself, for 
I meant to run into Tin Can Bay, and try to 
shove her into the creek there. The old man 
would wake to find himself and the Polly 
piled up high and dry, so that nothing would 
ever get her off. But just as I shifted the 
helm, so as to bring the Inskip on the port 
bow, the wind westered so fast that I nearly 
gibed the mainboom, and I had to bring the 
light wide on the starboard bow again. And 
now I knew what there was before me. 
Neither Hook Point nor Tin Can Bay would 
shelter us that night. I had to cross the Bar ; 
and if we crossed in safety, it would be a 
miracle. And a miracle it was, or so it seems 
to me when I look4)ack on that night's work, 
and remember what occurred. 

Now, as it stood, there was but one thing 


for me to do. I had to cross that Bar and 
chance everything. On any other point of 
sailing, I might have thrown her up into the 
wind and jumped down below. In almost any 
other craft but a schooner I could have left 
her helm for an instant ; but in a schooner 
running "wing and wing" it could not be 
done. Though she had twice as much 
canvas on her as she should have had, 
that wasn't my trouble ; it was the fear of 
her jibing. If her main boom had come 
round and taken charge in such a wind and 
such a sea, something would certainly have 
carried away and rendered her unmanage- 
able, even if the sticks hadn't been taken 
clean out of her, which was by far the most 
likely thing to happen. Then she would 
drift with the wind and tide right up to the 
Bar, which I could now see was all white 
water ahead of me without one break. And 
as fast as the Polly could go she was running 
for it. 

It was a curious thing to have to face, and 
somehow I thought a good deal about 
the scene of it. For the sky was only over- 


cast in places, and the moon was shining 
brightly on the dark, thickly wooded main- 
' land, and the hills at the south of the island 
on my port hand. The sea itself was dark, 
only a glint of moonlight touched it here and 
there ; but the land in the distance was 
quite distinct I could even discern the low 
hills away back from the coast over and 
beyond Tin Can Bay, where we could now 
have brought up with the wind in the west. 
And just then I shouted and yelled again as 
hard as I could. But they were fast asleep. 
It seemed to me that we should be all very 
hard to wake in less than half an hour. If it 
hadn't been for Sumner, my old chum, I 
should have been as silent as they. 

As we ran on and on, faster and faster yet, 
— for the tide was under her, stronger and 
stronger, every minute — I began to feel my 
courage come back to me. For a moment 
or two it had almost gone, but now I began 
to liven up and get on a strain, very keen 
and very alive, till my nerves seemed to sing 
clear like the tautened backstays. Every- 
thing to be thought of came into my brain. 


I longed for that beach of Tin Can Bay, and 
it fairly enraged me to think that I couldn't 
rouse old Soap-spar to find his Polly piled 
up on the main-land. But in spite of all I 
tried to think of, I knew there was nothing 
but the Bar for it, and a Bar I didn't know. 
Yet so long as the muslin held and the sticks 
stood, there was a chance of shooting her 
across without any material damage, pro- 
vided I put her at a place where she wouldn't 
strike and get her bottom knocked clean out 
of her. But it was a forlorn hope, and I 
own I looked to having the Polly in good 
shape for toothpicks or matchwood, with a 
crew that wouldn't want either grub or light 
again. And now I began to hear the song 
of the Bar, the roar of the white water, 
coming up against the wind that drove us 
down on it 

As I knew that when she got into the 
heavy roll of it and the whiteness of froth, 
and the sand churned up from the Bar, she 
would take seas in on all sides, I snatched 
up the end of the mainsheet, and managed, 
with great difficulty and danger of jibing 



her, to lash myself to the head of the rudder, 
giving myself sufficient play to steer her. 
For I had no fancy for going overboard 
while there was a chance of life, though it 
was only as faint as starlight in fog. 

And now I must say, though perhaps no 
one will quite believe it, that I almost began 
to enjoy the danger and the terror of it, for 
I felt strung and greatly excited, and as 
quick in my brain as a spring trap, and the 
feel of the vessel under me as she scudded 
was just grand. The wind, too, now sang 
and howled, but it was warm and dry, though 
it whipped off the heads of the waves and 
wetted my back with the spray. The boom 
and masts bent like thin pines or whipsticks ; 
the rigging was as taut as harp^trings, and 
each backstay sang, like a harpstring, a note 
according to its length. For this one 
can sometimes hear at sea ; and sometimes 
they slackened for a moment when she took 
a scend forward, and then took the strain 
once more with a twang that made me 
tremble for the safety of the sticks and for 
our only chance. 



In such a time, when every nerve and 
every muscle were strained to the uttermost 
in keeping the craft, which grew wilder and 
wilder every moment, before the wind, it 
was not likely that 1 should think of anything 
but the task before me, and the chances and 
the death that seemed imminent And I 
don't think my mind wandered away from 
the white stretch of the Bar and the Inskip 
Light. There wasn't any time ; there was 
no place in my brain to think of any I knew, 
for now the roar of the breakers and the 
wind grew deafening. Yet just as I raised 
one last tremendous shout to try and rouse 
up the drunken fools down below, I somehow 
began to feel as if some one was on deck 
with me, although I knew it couldn't be. 
And as my last call had no effect, and the 
Bar roared even louder, I drew the scuttle 
over, and put in the pin to keep it closed 
against the water that would otherwise get 
down below and perhaps drown them, even 
if I got the vessel through. As I did this 
and drew back quickly to the tiller, I felt 
certain there was some one almost behind 


me ; and though I dared not turn away my 
head for an instant lest I should jibe her, 
I saw out of the corner of my eyes some- 
thing like the figure of a man sitting on the 
starboard side of the transom. And then I 
knew it was Sumner ! 

For one moment I felt cold, and the terror 
of this being a warning came over me ; for 
though I was not superstitious, and am not, 
I saw him plainly. But as it seemed to me 
that he was calm, the fear left me as the 
time came for me to choose a place in the 
Bar at which to drive the schooner. And 
we were only half a mile away, or even less, 
when I suddenly felt assured that if there 
were any way through it at all, it lay a little 
more to the starboard hand, and I instantly 
altered my course as much as I could with- 
out danger. And I looked again and saw 
Sumner still sitting there, and he seemed so 
calm and content that I felt I had done 

I had done right. For just ahead of me I 
saw a little break in the wild water where it 
was not all white, and with a plunge the 



schooner was on the Bar, and buried fore 
and aft in foam that tumbled in over her 
bows and her bulwarks and the ' taflfrail 
behind me. I could feel that she hadn't 
touched. She was still afloat, and rising 
from her first big dive, she was struck full 
on the nose by one of the big south-easterly 
rollers on the other side. The shock made 
her tremble and shiver, till I thought she 
was split open fore and aft. But in that 
boiling pot, where the seas rose up and sank 
and rose again half the height of the masts, 
and in the blinding spray and the uproar and 
din of it, I had no time to think, as I clung 
desperately to the tiller, and tried to keep 
her end on to the seas and with the wind 
nearly aft. The strains on the rudder were 
such that I was thrown from side to side, 
and jolted and jarred till my muscles nearly 
gave out, and I could scarcely hold on. 
For I was blind with the thick dash of 
spray and choked with salt water as the seas 
boiled in on us and nearly tore me from the 

For one moment she stopped again, and 


then the heaviest sea of all came on board 
and washed me away the full length of the 
rope with which I was lashed. There were 
bruises round my body, deep and black, 
when I looked to find them. I struggled to 
my feet and dashed the water from my eyes 
just in time to see her broach to, sending the 
main-boom over with a crash that carried 
away the jaws at the heel of the boom. 
The mainsail split with a report like a 
cannon, and the heel of the boom shot 
forward of the mainmast, and going through 
the galley as if it were paper, knocked the 
stove out the other side, smashing it in frag- 
ments like a glass. I regained the tiller, 
and was able to put her before the wind 
under the foresail, which had stood all 
right ; and we were over the Bar. The 
rollers there, though heavy, were compara- 
tively regular. We were in safety ; and 
when I looked round for Sumner, wondering 
if I were not in a dream after all, I saw 
nothing. But I heard something. Soap- 
spar Jack and Finn were hammering desper- 
ately at the shut scuttle. Crossing the Bar 


had wakened even them. When I drew the 
pin, Soap-spar came out with a rush — 

** Why, there's Double Island Light!" he 
roared. ** You've crossed the Bar ! " and 
cursing most awfully, he asked me why I 
hadn't called him. 

" Why ! " said I, and I fairly laughed. 
And then I told him why. But my respect 
for his authority didn't seem so great as it 
had been when I suggested shortening sail. 
I spoke to him straight, but I never said 
anything to him or the others about Sumner, 
for fear they should think that I kept a private 
stock of ** red-eye " for my own consumption. 
But three months afterwards I met Sumner 
himself, and he remembered dreaming one 
night that I was drowned. That is all he 
knew. I suppose the figure I saw is what 
they call a phantasm of the living. 

1 60 


Some years ago now three men were sitting 
in a big room at the Admiralty in Whitehall. 
They were hard at work, for one was read- 
ing Mademoiselle Maupin in the original ; 
the second was trimming his nails with 
elaborate and affectionate care ; while the 
third was at his desk, staring at an official 

'' What I should like to know," said the last 
suddenly, " is how large a dhow can be ? " 

The reader of Gautier looked up. " And 
what the deuce is a dhow ? " said he. 

Being from another department, which 
dealt chiefly with troopships, he knew 
nothing of any other craft ; at any rate, he 
appeared to know nothing. But the man 
whose nails were nearly finished smiled a 
little sarcastically. 

i6i L 


" I haven't the remotest notion of their 
size, but as the tendency of all the powers 
that be is to build vessels bigger and bigger, 
it is possible that the Arabs are of their age 
and keep pace with us." 

"You've hit it, I think," said the man 
with the paper, " for they get bigger every 
month, and then prize money gets more 
accordingly. Here's the Scorpion chap send- 
ing in a claim for one of 300 tons. It's about 
time we had a prize court on the coast there." 

" It ought to be inquired into," said the 
reader of the Golden Book. 

** It must be inquired into," said the nail- 
parer, planting his penknife deep in the 

" It shall be inquired into," said the man 
with the paper. " I am going to Alexandria 
next month. I will take care to get sent on 
to Zanzibar. There will be allowances and 
subsistence money, and I will inquire into 
this tale of the Scorpion^ 

**Get up mensuration and tonnage and 
measurements and all that rot before you 
go!" said the disciple of Gautier, with a 


wink, and then and there he sat down and 
wrote a letter to a friend of his. Part of it 
ran thus : — " I think you know Bright, of the 
Scorpion, now hunting slavers, etc., on the 
east coast of Africa. Jefferson, of this office, 
will take advantage of his having to go to 
Alexandria to go farther, perhaps to Zanzibar. 
He is interested in dhows ; wants to know 
how big they run. Verbum Sap.'' 
# # # * 

Jefferson went to Alexandria, and liked it, 
and to Aden, and hated it, and then on to 
Zanzibar by a B.I. boat and a Frenchman; 
but when he reached the Sultan's Island, he 
found the Scorpions commander was laid up 
with some kind of fever. He wasn't to be 
seen, so Jefferson got put on board the gun- 
boat, and interviewed the chief gunner, who 
was practically in command. 

" So you would like to see a dhow, sir ? " 
said the gunner cheerfully. " Will you come 
out a cruise with us for us to catch you one ? " 

** Haven't you one handy?" asked 

''Well, not exactly," replied the gunner, in 


a tone that made his questioner feel meanly 
ignorant. ** These big slave-dhows are 
getting scared of us now ; but I'll see what 
can be done for you if you'll stay with us for 
a bit" 

" That's what I proposed doing. Lieu- 
tenant Bright sent me word that I could have 
his cabin. I suppose it's healthier on the 
water than ashore ? " 

" Healthier ! Lord love you, sir," said the 
man, with a grave face. " There's no health 
here. I've had the fever seventeen times. 
Tve got a touch of it now ! " 

** It's not catching, is it ? " asi, ^ Jefferson 

*' They say not, sir," replied the gunner, 
apparently trying to appear cheerful. ** It's 
in the air and the water and the grub and the 
tobacco and everything ; but I can see you're 
not scared about fever." 

'* Hum ! " said Jefferson. 

" I'll see your traps are sent on board, sir," 

said the gunner, and he departed to interview 

the bo'son. His air of cheerfulness was 

clouded over when his back w-*-, turned, and 



gloom fell on his shipmate when he heard 
the news. 

'* What's to be done with this office swab ? " 
asked the gunner. '* He will blow the whole 
gaff if we can't put him off. The lieutenant 
would fix him some way or another." 

*' Persuade him to-morrow that he's got the 
fever already/' said the bo'son, who was a man 
of ready wit. ** Get the doctor to give you 
something to fix his drink with, and make 
him ill." 

'* I dursn't ask the doctor any such thing ! " 

*' Then get it ashore." 

" It's too risky." 

*' Then he's got us," said the bo'son. 

** I don't know that it's any good yelling 
before we're hurt," said the gunner, after a 
pause. " I'll find some way to weather on 
him, if I have to take him out in the boats 
for a week and make him believe we don't 
know where we are." 

''Take him up nor'ard and stick him in a 
swamp on the Kipanga,"said the bo'son. 

" If it wouldn't put the whole crew down 
too," said the gunner, **it would serve him 


right. What does this man mean by coming 
here to spoil a good thing. Til make him 
sick yet." 

So he went off, and sat in his berth plan- 
ning and plotting how to do Jefferson. 
When he went on deck again, he found his 
man under the poop awning, leaning on the 
taffrail, and looking at one of the biggest 
trading dhows that ran into Zanzibar. She 
was a '' bagala/' with a high square stern, a 
tall poop, and a curious long, projecting 
prow. She was using her sweeps just then, 
for it was a dead calm. 

" What's that, Mr. Smith ? " said the man 
from the Admiralty, glad to see any one, for 
he was beginning to feel the heat dreadfully, 
and to funk the fever. 

** That's a dhow, sir." 

" A dhow, eh ? " said Jefferson, showing 
more interest ; ** and is she 300 tons.^" 

" Lord, no, sir ; she's only a cockle-shell 
compared with their big boats, such as a 
Mtepe or a Jumbo. You wait a piece, and 
rU show you a Jumbo." 

'* Is this one a slaver ? " 


** They're all slavers when they can be; 
but now she's an honest, honourable trader, 
with orchilla weed, or some such trash, in 
her ; but to-morrow I think I can show you 
a real dhow, sir, if you have a mind to come 
in the boats round yonder point" 

He pointed away to the north, towards Bet 
el Ras, along the oily sea, which shimmered 
with heat and shone like brass in the wake 
of the sun. 

** Can't we go in the Scorpion}'' asked 
Jefferson, wiping his forehead. 

"Not very well, sir. You see, it's dead 
calm, and may be for days, unless there's a 
cyclone comes." 

*' And supposing one came while we were 
in the boats ? " asked Jefferson in alarm. 

"We should probably be able to get 
ashore," replied the wicked gunner, with an 
emphasis on "probably" that made the 
enterprising clerk fairly squirm ; but he said 
no more. 

Next morning, two hours before dawn, 
they routed out Jefferson, gave him a cup of 
coffee, and put him in one of the boats. The 


bo'son stayed on board, but his smile was 
cheerful as he saw them depart with one of 
the boats much in advance of the other. 
Under its stern sheets was a pot of black 
paint and some brushes. 

"Where's that boat going to?" asked 
Jefferson, as he saw it slipping off into the 

"Just ahead of us, sir," answered Mr. 
Smith ; " she's the lightest and fastest boat 
we have." 

As they went along, the gunner prattled 
artlessly about the rains and fevers, and 
niggers and Arabs and their bloodthirsty, 
treacherous ways; and he mixed Jefferson 
up with native and nautical terms, until the 
poor fellow was ready to swear that mastka 
meant a very big dhow and bedeni was 
applied to the heavy rains. For Mr. Smith 
used all the words he knew and some he 
didn't, and he span yarns about khors and 
mtos, and about Tumbutu and Pemba, with 
a fine geographical inaccuracy not wholly 
confined to sailors. But just at dawn, when 
the sun and day come together across the 


island that we call Zanzibar and the natives 
Unguja, they rounded a point, and Jefferson 
saw a vessel hard ashore in the bight of a 
small bay. 

*' Why, she's on the shore ! " he exclaimed. 

" She went ashore a month ago." 

" And is that a dhow ? " he asked. 

All the men in the boat looked at him with 
an odd expression in their eyes. One of 
them gurgled strangely ; but the gunner was 
very solemn. 

**Yes, sir, that's one of the biggest — ^the 
very biggest — dhows we catch. I doubt if 
we ever caught quite such a big one. In 
fact, they do say she was too big for them 
Arabs to manage, and that's why she's got 
on the ground." 

The men dropped their eyes and pulled 

•'There's a boat by her," said Jefferson 

** Yes, our boat, sir." He coughed a little 
himself, and, taking his glass, looked through 
it. As he shut it up again, he nodded con- 



In less than a quarter of an hour they 
were alongside a two-masted vessel, which 
any sailor would have recognised as a Swedish 
or Norwegian brigantine by her paint and 
curved martingale, in spite of her being a 
good deal bashed about and almost dis- 
mantled ; but to Jefferson she was a dhow, 
a big slave-dhow, such as he had come so 
far to see, and as he clambered up her side 
he had a sense of romantic adventure come 
over him to which he was a stranger. 

''So this is a dhow," said he simply. 
"Well, I must say I never had any notion 
they were so big or so well fitted. But, Mr. 
Smith, I don't remember ever seeing any 
picture of such vessels as dhows. She's very 
like one's own kind of ship." 

" Picture, sir ! " said the gunner contemp- 
tuously ; " who draws 'em ? Do they come 
out here and do it, or stay at home and think 
about it? Besides, they fellows want the 
pretty little bagalas such as I showed you 
yesterday. They don't think it good enough 
to draw Arab craft like our own. But the 
Arabs, sir — the Arabs, they know. And 


now, sir, perhaps, as you are in the dhow, 
you'd like to measure her up and satisfy 
yourself about the size." 

" That," said Jefferson cheerfully, ** is just 
what I was thinking of." 

"Then we'll take her length and depth 
and beam, and any other measurements you 
like, and both reckon it up." 

So they took those three dimensions, and 
several others which Jefferson, enamoured of 
his new study of naval measurements, in- 
sisted on. 

** We are not so particular, sir," said the 
gunner loftily. 

'* No," said Jefferson ; "at the Admiralty 
we think you are sometimes a little inaccu- 
rate ! " And he thought he had made a point. 

** What figures have you got.^ " he asked, 
after a quarter of an hour's hard work. 

"Four hundred tons!" said the gunner, 
who had made a rough calculation with a bit 
of carpenter's pencil on the rail. It only 
took him a minute. Jefferson stared. 

*' Why, I make it 445 tons and two-thirds 
of a ton," he exclaimed. 


" I daresay you are right, sir," said the 
gunner, with an air of superior virtue ; ** but 
Lieutenant Bright thinks it is better to err 
on the side of giving a leetle under than 
over, even if we lose a trifle of money on the 

•*How do you calculate it, then?*' asked 

" Multiply the length (minus three-fifths of 
the beam) by the beam, and that again by 
half the beam, and divide by ninety-four," 
said the gunner. ** That's good enough for 
us ; but of course, sir, you are more likely to 
be right than I." 

And then, though he had forgotten more 
about practical mathematics than the Admi- 
ralty man ever knew, he suggested to him 
that he should like to know the true official 
method. He made so many mistakes in 
learning it that Jefferson came to the conclu- 
sion that he had to deal with a fool ; and as 
a teacher he resumed some of the natural 
superiority which he had lost in the unnatural 
circumstances of dhow-hunting north of 
Zanzibar. He made a long technical report 


when he got on board the Scorpion, fhe 
gunner made his friendly report to the 

** But what about the name on her stern ? " 
asked that worthy suddenly. 

" Didn't I get some black paint from you 
this morning, you thick-headed duffer, and 
didn't it go on ahead in the gig ? Of course 
it was painted out when we got there ! " 

But, nevertheless, Jefferson remained an 
undisputed authority on the larger kinds of 
dhow so long as he adorned his golden 
branch of the Admiralty. 



I HAD come home from Australia in Money 
Wigram's Essex, with a bought discharge, 
that I had brought no discredit on, and 
being again dead-broke in London, I went 
up to Hull, to look for a job in a steamer. 

I was full up to the back teeth with wind- 
jammers, and going aloft on a dirty night in 
a ship "with sails.'* For I preferred ** a sail- 
ing ship with two masts and a big chimbley," 
as the Irish emigrant called the White Star 
liner in which he crossed the Western Ocean. 
Being a heavy man, if active, I hated stow- 
ing the foreroyal, when there were half a 
dozen lazy young devils aft and for'ard that the 
skipper feared to risk above the mainyard. 
For that was what happened when Lake 
commanded the old Essex. 

I knew one of her quartermasters who 
hung out in Hull. He had held a master s 


certificate but he drank, and one night, when 
he was very full, he didn't leave things to 
his mate like a sensible chap, but bossed 
the job of putting his vessel ashore, and got 
his ticket cancelled, being eased off with a 
mate's. But he couldn't catch hold again, 
and so went before the mast, as he had done 
thirty years before. And he and I were 
thick coming home. So 1 thought I'd try 

I put up in the ** Sailors' Home," in Salt- 
house Lane, quite in the backquarters of the 
town, and being used to rough tucker and 
tough sleeping in spite of a soft spell at 
home in London, I didn't mind the hash or 
the accommodation that they gave us. 

There were not many of us in the Home 
— only myself and a ginger-headed English- 
man, and a Herring- back, and a Blue-nose, 
and a very old Yorkshireman, or one who 
had been Yorkshire till he'd been pickled in 
all the seas betwixt the Horn and the North 
Cape. And perhaps it's as well to say that 
a herring-back is a New Brunswicker, and a 
blue-nose a Nova Scotia man. For the 



New Brunswickers are supposed to eat 
herrings till the bones stick out of their 
backs; and what with strong liquor and 
strong weather, the men from Nova Scotia 
are often blue about the beak, though not 
more so, I daresay, than any common 
Englishman when he goes down channel 
with a stocking round his neck, feeling blue 
all over with the last big debauch and the 
cold of a bleak north-easter. 

We didn't have such a bad time at the 
Home, and though I was soon stony-broke, 
without the price of a screw of tobacco or a 
pint of beer, I wasn't unhappy. We used to 
prowl about in couples round the docks 
during the day^ and walk the streets at night 
till we were tired. Then we went back to 
the smoking-room, to see if any of the chaps 
had raised a smoke and a little to spare, and 
if no one had, we sent a deputation to the 
boss of the Home to try and wheedle him into 
an advance of sixpence. But, though he was 
a very easy man, he used to come in and 
look stern enough. 

" I shall be singing * John, get up, and 


let Jack sit down/ mighty soon to some of 
you," said he. " For you are flat-broke, now, 
aren't you ? " 

"We are, sir," we answered. 

" Well, then, go and look for a ship. 
Then you'll have tobacco," and he mooched 

" Tough old nut he is," said Ginger. And 
then we told each other yarns about ancient 
battles in which he had been engaged. For 
he had once been a prize-fighten And we 
discussed a knotty point: Could he, even 
now, being a bit old, lick the runner of the 
Home, who weighed eighteen stone, and was 
as strong as a hippopotamus ? 

We varied that discussion one evening by 
getting up a fight among ourselves. 

For the blue-nose, whose name was John- 
son, managed to get drunk by palling in with a 
chap just come ashore. Then he took it into 
his thick head that I'd done or said, or meant 
to do or say, something to him, and he sat 
on the table, and made insulting remarks, till 
I got up and landed him in the face and cut 
his eye. His chum, the old Yorkshire chap, 
177 M 


chipped in then, and caught hold of me, and, 
between the two of them, I was a bit mauled, 
and, between the three of us, what furniture 
there was got upset. 

The boss was out, but his wife and the 
servant-girl heard the uproar and the crashing 
of benches, and they came in time to see us 
in a pile on the floor. They flew at my 
assailants, who were on top, and pulled them 
off" by the hair, and lugged me out And 
the old woman, who had taken a fancy to 
me, as I wasn't so rough to look at as the 
most of them, gave me half a crown, which I 
was to pay back out of my advance when I 
got it. 

I bought tobacco, and, going back into the 
smoking-room, sat and puffed it in solitary 
dignity, till the others were so sick of having 
none that they fairly crawled, and came over 
and tried to make friends. And I, being 
a young fool, not yet twenty-two, gave 
them half an ounce and stood them some 
beer. Then old Yorkshire, who really 
wasn't a bad sort, and didn t owe me any 
grudge for the black eye Td given him in 


the scrapping match, told us a yarn which 
I've always remembered, and have often told 
in the fo'c's'le since, as having happened to 
my uncle or my elder brother. And here it 
is, for what it's worth. Put your price on it, 
and we'll talk of another. 

'* Them as talks of the diggings 'as mostly 
never 'andled a pan, and as for a pick, the 
only pick they ever see was mostly a tooth- 
pick. I've read books on it and yarns about 
it that made me sick. For it's one lucky, and 
ninety-nine with the typhoid, or the 'orrors, 
or starving, or workin' for another bloke. 
And I was one of the unlucky sort Ballarat 
I'd tried, and Bendigo,and, my word, I never 
got a real show anywhere. I fever I see any 
gold it was in another claim, and at last I 
sells out, and clears. 

** ' I'm off to Melbourne, mates,' says I. 

'* ' Right you are,' says they. * For there 
is some lucky and some out of it, and. Bill,' 
says they, ' you 'ave 'ad uncommon bad 

** Which was true, as I was telling you. 


•• * For any man nowadays, let alone a 
sailorman, can ship in Melbourne for a cool 
'undred for the run *ome/ says I, 'and 'ome 
rU go, and see if my luck turns, and in another 
eight months, mebbe. Til be up 'ere again/ 

"And we all shakes 'ands, and I 'umps my 
swag, and 'oofs it into town. It took me just 
three days, for Ballarat's a good 'undred miles 
up country, and I could walk a good 'un them 
days. I met sailormen strung out all along 
the road, each man with 'is blooming 'ook-pot 
givin *imaway for what 'e was. And though 
I was quite the miner, they tumbled to me 
when I opened my mouth, and would ask for 
me to tell 'em the truth of it, and why was I 

" ' 'Ad I made my pile ? ' says they, unani- 

" * No, I 'adn't,' I says spiteful, ' and, what's 
more, for one as does, a cool 'undred don't. 
And, mates, it's muck and dirt and flies and 
open blazes there, and if you'd take my advice, 
as you won't, you'd 'bout ship, and come 
with me.' 

" But, no, they see for theirselves, thinking 
1 80 


me a bloomin' disappointed old croaker. 
And when I leaves 'em I says — 

" ' And drink's a cruel price, and bad at 
that. Wuss nor the worst down at Sand- 

** And it was the same with 'em all, till I 
gets down into Sandridge, and drops my swag 
outside Jackson's boardin'-'ouse. I know'd 
him for a scoundrel, but that I didn't mind, 
for then I didn't drink over-much, and I 'ad 
it all cut and dried in my 'ead what I'd do. 

" ' I suppose I can get a ship ? ' says I. 

" * They wants men cruel bad,' says he. 
* But it won't be so bloomin' easy for you to 
get a ship.' 

*' • 'Ow's that ? ' says I, starin' at him. 

"'Well,' says he, 'can you ship as a 
bloomin' crowd? Are you ten A.B.'s and a 
couple of ordinaries, and a cook and a boy or 
two ? ' says he. ' Why, you know you aren't,' 
says he. 

" And I gives a whistle. I swears it 'adn't 
ever entered my 'ead as that was the way of 
things. But I sits down and 'as dinner, and 
just no more than 'arf a pint, or maybe more, 



but not much anyway. And down I goes 
afterwards on the pier. 

"And, sure enough, the 'ole of the bay 
was just like a bloomin* fly-trap or a lobster- 
pot. Easy enough they come in, but 'ard it 
was to get out ; and 'oo the 'ell was to do it, 
for they lay there thick, as thick as Falmouth 
with 'omeward bounders after a month's good 
east wind ? 

** The place was full of melancholy captains, 
sittin' along on dumped stuff on the pier, and 
they was in rows, like hinvalids sunnin' their- 
selves outside of a 'orspital on a warm day, 
very melancholy and sad to be'old. And 
though they looked up eager-like at me as I 
came along, a manifest sailorman by the walk 
of me, they only turned their quids, and spat 
quite sad and dejected, when they thought I 
was only one, and not a 'ole crowd by any 
means, though big an' strong to look at. 

" I walks down to the far end of the pier, 
and never in the 'ole of my life did I feel so 
stuck up. I puts my thumbs in the arm oles 
of my weskit, and strolls on casual, knowing 
I was wot they calls a unique, meanin*, as I 


reckon, the on'y one as was. And when I 
gets to the end, I squats on a pile of planks, 
and considers as to what was my price, and 
'ow I was to get it. 

" And my pride goes a slump, sudden, and 
the use o' bein' the on'y specimen on sale 
or 'ire warn't so clear to me. I might be 
proud of bein' the only seafarin' man there, 
except skippers and a few odd mates, but 'ow 
was I to get *ome, and 'ow raise the rhino by 
so doing ? It appeared to me as I wanted a 
stack of slates to work it out on. 

** So I sits and dangles my legs over the 
water : and be'ind me, on one side of the 
pier, was cheerful captains and thoughtful 
captains, watching the few old cripples they 
*ad, and some lumpers paid by the hour in 
gold, whippin' out the cargo, and, on the 
other side, was the melancholy row of 
skippers being added to gradual. 

•*And I lay down, and tumbled off to 
sleep, what with the sun and the quart or so 
of she-oak I swiped at dinner-time, and, 
bimeby, I dreamed as the *ole of 'Obson's 
Bay was as thick as the South Surrey 


Commercial with vessels lying in tiers, and 
rammed and jammed and crammed right 
away from Sandridge and Williamstown to 
Geelong and Queenstown and the 'eads. 
And all along of the piers, and on the shore, 
sat the weary captains, some with long grey 
beards, and some gone mad, and some singin' 
soft and low, * We're 'omeward bound,' 
with the tears in their eyes. And as the 
bloomin' ships sailed in through the 'eads, 
they brought up sudden agin' the others, and 
the crew comes ashore, miles across the thick 
of them. Up country they goes, a stream of 
sailormen, with 'ook-pots and a bundle in a 
bandanna, with 'ope in their eyes and a chew 
in their cheek. For little they know'd of 
dust and flies and ants and mosquitoes, and 
'ard labour in an 'eart-breakin' 'ole, with not 
the sign of gold in a thousand weary panfuls. 

*'*And, presently, as I was a-lyin* and 
dreamin', I was shook by the shoulder, and I 
sits up, and I sees a sad-looking skipper by me. 

***You was nigh rollin' overboard,* says 
he, 'and I took the liberty of rousin* you,' 
says he. 



" * Thank you kindly/ says I, though I 
felt thick in the mouth and tongue, and none 
so pleased. 

"And then he squats down alongside. 
And I thinks that things is a bit different 
from the usual lay, say, in the Port of London. 
For there its 'unt and 'unt for a ship, and 
' Could you give us a chawnce in this ship, 
sir ? ' while *ere they came and sat down 
friendly with a man. Presently this 'ere 
skipper talks. 

'* ' It's a rum start all this.' 

"'What's a rum start, sir ?' I arsts 'im. 
For, though I was so bloomin' rare and 
precious, I couldn't be 'aughty with a skipper 
at first, and ' sir ' come out before I thought 
of my true persition. 

" * Why, not 'aving no 'ands,' he answers. 

" * Ah, now you valleys 'em,' says I. * I 
guess it's no two-pound-ten a month you offers 
the likes of me now ? ' 

** * No,' he allowed very civil, * we'd give 
any thin* in reason for a crew.' 

** * And what's reason, my good man ? 
said I. 



"But, at that, he jumped a bit off his tail, 
like a kangaroo, and I could see it was a bitter 
pill for 'im to swaller. But 'e saw I 'ad the 
upper 'and, and 'e chokes down the words in 
'is throat. 

** * They talks of ten pounds a month,' said 
'e, looking at me out o' the corner of 'is eye. 

" * And twenty to that,' I told 'im. And 
he knowed it was true. For years after, when 
men was nothin so scarce, I 'ad ten out of 
Port Pirie. 

*• ' Well,' says 'e, * that's so. It's ninety 
pounds the run 'ome. And my ship'll do it 
easy in ninety days, and, with luck, in seventy- 

** * What's your ship ? ' I arsts. 

** * The Great Republic^ says 'e. ' A good 
ship, and a comfortable ship, and a flyer. 
And, though I says it, I've the name of a good 

** Now, as it 'appened, I'd 'eard of 'im, and 
I knew 'is name, which was Speddick. 

** 'I own I never 'eard nothin' much agin* 
you, Captain Speddick,' says I, 'but I've my 
doubts as to your makin* a passage in seventy- 


five days. And they do say as the grub s none 
so good on board of you.' 

'* He stands up. 

" * Will you ship with me ? ' *e arsts. * You 
shan't *ave nothin' to object to.' 

'* ' rU think of it,' says I, cautious. 

** * I'll give the 'ighest wages going,' says 
e, * and if you fetches me some 'ands, you shall 
'ave commission on what they gets.' 


** * Five per cent.' 

" * It ain't enough.' 

" ' Well, then, ten,' says 'e, sighing. 

" * I'll think it out, Captain Speddick,' and 
I walks off, and 'e follows. 

** * Will you give me your word not to 
ship with any other man till you comes to 
me ? ' he arsts. 

*''0h, that rildo,'says I. 

" ' Shall we drink on it, my man ? * 

" ' My name's Mister Cowen,' said I, and 
Tm blowed if he didn't take it and say 

** And down we goes by the other captains. 
Presently I pulled up. 



" * Does any of this lot on this pile of 
scantlin's know you ? ' I arst of 'im. 

*' ' Oh certainly, Mr. Cowen,* said 'e. 

'* * Then, maybe, you wouldn't mind if I 
was to arst 'em what kind of a skipper you 
are,* said I ; * and there's that argument we 
'ad as to your doing it in seventy-five.' 

**'E stiffened a bit. 

** ' I'll show you the logs,' said he. ' But 
you can arst 'em.' 

"And I did. 

" ' Oh yes,' allowed one of them, ' 'e's a 
good 'and as capting. I can recommend 
'im, sir, as the capting, if you're going to 
ship before the mast' 

" He meant it satirical. That 1 could see. 
But I acted as if I see nothing. 

" * And the grub ? ' 

** ' Good,' they said ; * there's jam and 
butter, and duff" every day, and always 

** * And the rum's over proof,' said Speddick 

" ' No allowance ? ' I asked. 

' * Oh come ! ' said 'e. And I gives in on 


that, and we goes on. And the captains 
all subsides again. 

"'How long'U they sit there, Speddick?' 
I says. 

" He chokes a bit, and don't answer for a 

" ' Gawd knows,' he says presently. 

" ' Then, why not ship a crowd of skippers?' 
says I. 

" But 'e thought it wouldn't answer, for, at 
any rate, they could be watchmen in their 
own ships, and to 'ire a watchman was like 
'iring a millionaire. 

" And so talkin', me being boss, so to speak, 
we comes down to Jackson's, and 'e stands 
champagne, and then some rum 'ot For 
that 'elped the perspiration. 

" And on it we strikes our bargain. I was 
to be bo'sun, with a 'undred for the run 'ome, 
or thirty pounds a month if she didn't do it 
in a 'undred days ; and for every man I 
fetched at ninety I was to 'ave ten, and if I 
got 'em on board, drunk, Shang'ai-in' 'em, I 
was to 'ave thirty. And while I was workin' 
it 'e paid my board at Jackson's, aad give 


me five pounds a week. And all *e asked 
Jackson was whether I was sober. And 
then I was, and Jackson could say so with a 
clear conscience. Not that lyin* hurt 'im, 
anyway, and never did. 

'* Well, when Speddick quits, and goes off 
to his own shebang, or the ship, or the stack 
of dunnage as he was squatted on when I 
came by him, Jackson, who'd laid low, came 
to me mighty curious. 

'* *And what kind of a bloomin' racket ave 
you on with Speddick ? ' 'e arst me. 

" * Tm the crew,' said I, dry enough. For 
I had no cause to be civil to Jackson, for *e 
couldn't do nothin' for me, and 'e wasn't to 
finger no advance note, I tell you. 

'* For, in them days, I 'ad the savvy to spend 
my money on myself, not bein' the idjit I've 
got in these later times. Then I 'ad notions 
of 'avin' a public-'ouse of my own, though I 
was before the stick. I was a rare bird 
then ; I never seed my like out of a thousand 
silly sailormen. Money I stuck to, for I 
loved it, until the woman came and made me 
like the next man, and shook my cash out of 


me, being drtink with love of her, just as 
they up-ends sleepers in Sydney, and shakes 
the stuff out of o* their pockets, when they're 

" But, as I was saying, I answered Jackson 
dry. And 'e didn't like it. 

"'Oh, you're the crew, are you? And 
where's the rest of you ? ' 'e says. ' Or are 
you and Speddick going to sail a full-rigged 
ship 'ome round the 'Orn by yourselves ? ' 

** ' Don't you mind me,' says I. * Did you 
ever see anythin' for you to take me for a 
green'orn ? ' 

'* * Why, no,' he answers, bitter enough, 
' if all sailormen was the dead spit of you, 
boardin'-'ouse masters would 'ave no easy 
time of it.' 

** ' Why, no, Jackson, they wouldn't,' says 
I ; ' they'd be pickin' pockets in the street, 
instead of in their own snug, eh ? ' 

" * I'd like to see the josser as could pick 
your pocket,' says 'e. 

" * After you've been through it,' says I. 
* As you tried, and you know it, you daylight 
thief, you.' 



" And he lights over the barj quick* For 
thief or not, and *e knowed well 'e was one, 
'e was good enough at a rough and tumble, 
and as 'ard as a keg of nails. And little 
good a boardin'-'ouse master would be if 'e 
warn't, unless he was like Barley over at 
Williamstown, as *ad 'is wife's brother — a 
fightin' man — ^as chucker out I knowed 
'im, for 'e put me on my crust more'n once. 

" But that was what Jackson couldn't 
He called me a Jew, and then we was among 
the casks standin' on their chimes agin' the 
wall. And, afore any of the other blokes 
about could 'elp 'im, I landed 'im' on the 
boko, and 'e was stretched out neat and tidy, 
with the claret goin'. 

'* The wife come out then, and 'ove a glass 
jug at me that went through the winder. 
And, with that, I stands over Jackson, and, 
bein' savage, I tells 'er I'll jump on 'im if she 
so much as lifts 'er 'and again. 

" * Talk as much as you likes,* I says. 
And talk she did. For she was a rare she- 
devil, and could tongue-bang any trollop in 
the town. 



" ' 'Ave you 'ad enough ? ' I arsts of 

'* And 'e owned to 'avin' 'is fill. 

" * But tell that wife of yourn to drop it,' 
I says. And 'e did. 

'* So then I took my dunnage, and went 
over to the rival 'ouse — a den o' thieves, of 
course. But when I told the boss I'd give 
Jackson the taste of my fist, he stood a 
drink and I took just one, and went and 
turned in comfortable, to think out the plan 
as I'd in my 'ead. 

'^But by the 'Oly Frost, if I'd known 
what was goin' to 'appen I'd 'ave crawled 
back to Jackson, and said, * Kick me, do, and 
kick me 'ard, for I'm nothin' but a crazy :^ 


''But then, no man knows, and if I'd 
know'd as a woman was to get the posh I'd 
saved, I'd 'ave drunk it freer, and been more 
popular. Not that I ever was mean, and no 
man as ever sailed with me could say it, 
though they 'ove up at me that I always 
left 'alf my pay at 'ome, though not married. 
That was the only way I ever struck to save 
193 N 


a little, and I was mad at bein' called a Jew by 
that Jackson, just because I was tryin' not to 
get left 'igh and dry, as most sailormen is as 
don't ave the luck to be drowned. 

" 'Owsomedever, I 'ad my path chalked 
out, and, Jew or none, I meant getting some 
sugar some'ow, seein' I'd 'ad such luck with 
the pick and the pan at Ballarat. And, with 
this soft and silly Speddick, and the way times 
was, if I could only rake up a scratch crew 
out of 'ell and Little Bourke Street, I could 
easy make two or even three 'undred out of 
the passage, and with that added to the 
'undred I ad at *ome, I might manage a little 
beer-'ouse, and never see water agin, except 
when I shoved it, and a little sugar, into the 
beer in the cellar. For my uncle 'e 'ad a 
beer-'ouse, and I knowed a bit of the wockin' 
of it. 

" But it was a good thing for me in this 
'unting up a crowd that I warn't easy dis- 
couraged, and was full as fond of a joke as I 
am now, and more so ; for then, bein' young, 
I 'ad more spirits, and was more able. I tell 
vou I've often laughed even on a cold look- 


out, or, for that matter, at the wheel, to think 
of me prospectin' for old Speddick's crew, 
when every swine's nose was set north-west 
towards Ballarat to grub gold, where many of 
'em just dug 'oles and got buried in 'em. 

*' Of course, in any time, and in any place, 
you can lay 'old of dead-brokes and no-account 
chaps, and some of these I just got 'old of 
and kept 'em in tow, with a nobbier or two 
of poison. But that was on'y in case I 
couldn't land some better. You can easy 
reckon it warn't no plan of mine to go in a 
ship with a real crowd of cripples, for it would 
mean too much on me, and might mean more. 
And I was lookin' for pay-day, not to be 
shark's meat, nor to be crawling 'ome for ever 
under jury rig. Though, at thirty quid a 
month, that was worth considerin'. 

** Well, I gets 'old of another real sailorman 
who was silly and sick and footsore, and with 
the last remains of the sandy blight makin' 
'im blink and 'ate the sun, and look out for a 
ship. His name I disremember, but we called 
'im Blinkers, for 'e 'ad spectacles. And, 
catchin' 'im put me on a dodge. I went up 



to the 'orspital, and stood the porter a drink 
or two, bein' a towney of 'is, as I said, though 
it wasn't so. 

" ' ' Ow many sailormen 'as you in the 
place ? ' I arst of 'im. 

" ' There's six, I think,' says 'e. 

" ' What's wrong with 'em ? ' says L 

**' There's one with a bad knife cut, and 
one with a broke leg, and another with 
the jaunders, and two with the 'orrors. And 
the other I disremember,' says 'e. 

**And I gets 'im to let me know when 
they was comin' out, and I meets 'em, and 
stands 'em drinks, they bein' discouraged and 
weak and 'omeless. And all but one I gets 
down to the Great Republic, to see Speddick, 
and 'e signs 'em on, though, for the matter 
of that, three hadn't much of the seaman 
about 'em. 

**And, with the first one signed, I made 
'im draw me up a contrack, and the boardin'- 
'ouse boss takes it to a low lawyer, a shyster 
they calls 'em in the States, and 'e sees as 
it's all right, and charges me a pound, blast 
'im. 'Owsever, it was drawed tight enough. 


"And, 'oly Moses, but you would *a 
laughed to see *ow the Great Republic got 
turned into a floatin' convallysent 'ome ! 

** ' Speddick,' says I, 'you'll feed 'em 

*• ' I will/ says 'e, 

•' * For to keep 'em, you must,' I says, ' and 
make it 'omely to 'em with rum 'ot and a 
squeedge of lemon. And now, with another 
five or so, we could do it' 

" * I think we could,' says 'e, eager. For 
'e was brightenin' up wonderful, and 'ad got 
over its first feelin' about me talkin' to 'im as 
if I was the owner. The melancholy was 
goin' out of 'im, and 'e would walk the pier, 
and chaff the other captains sittin' idle or 
cussin'. For they cussed first, and then tried 
for 'ands, and then give it up, and either 
drank or faded away. They told me at the 
'orspital as captains mostly went off in a 
decline that year, though most years it was 
d.ts., as one would expect, of course, seeing 
as captains don't 'ave no need to axe nobody 
for a certificate for bein' sober. 

** If the Board of Trade know'd its business, 


they'd make it a reg'lation to axe the crowdy 
when they paid off, what the skipper s 'abits 
was. And then the land wouldn't jump up 
sudden where it wasn't looked for so often, 
and they wouldn't just make their landfall by 
'ittin' of it unexpected, 

"By now I reckoned as we 'ad enough 
sailormen to salt the crowd with, and I 
thought the time was come to make an 'aul 
of the men as I was to get most out of 
accordin' to the drawed-out contrack. And 
Blinkers and me (for I kept 'im ashore) went 
off about it. Just about then I tumbled 
across a real towney of mine, a 'tec, come 
from Whitby, where I was born, though 
mostly sailin' out of London, and 'im and 
me agreed well, and I told 'im the lay I 
was on. 

** * Look here,* says 'e, ' for a fiver a-piece 
ril get you three men, not too old, and fairly 
spry on their feet, though not sailors.' 

" * I don't want sailormen,' says I, laughin'. 
' We're startin' a trainin' ship, me and 
Speddick. Where are they, and will they 



*' ' ril see they come,' says 'e ; ' but is the 
fiver a-piece good ? * 

" * I don't think as Speddick '11 stand so 
much, Bob/ says I, 'but Til pass my word 
for three, or, say, ten quid for the lot' 

"And, after a little 'agglin', he agreed. 
Leavin' Blinkers moored fore and aft to a 
donah and a pot of beer, we went in a side 
parlour, and wrote out a contrack . for 

" * And who's these men, Bob ? ' I arst 'im, 

** * You won't give me away, Bill, will 
you ? ' said 'e. 

*' And I swore blind I wouldn't. 

"*Then they're wanted,' said 'e, 'and I 
can nab 'em. On'y it'll be more worth my 
while to let you 'ave 'em than to jug 'em. 
One's a bloomin' auctioneer, as 'e calls 'imself, 
though we calls 'im a fence, and the other's a 
bettin' man as was, that's now a bully, and 
the other's quite respectable — a doctor.' 

'*' And what's 'e done?' 

" ' I don't believe 'e done nothin'. Bill, but 
there's a lot of evidence as 'e killed a man. 
And 'e s 'iding, and I gets two quid a week 


not to take 'im. But Til have to directly,, 
for there's another of us, as don't like me, 
nosin' round/ 

" ' And they'll all come wilHn' ? ' says I. 

'"Two of 'em glad, the fence and the 
doctor. The other I'll bring you, willin" or 
not, if I 'ave to 'ocus 'im,' says 'e. 

"And we fixes the day, or rather the 
night, of their bein' brought. And then I 
'ad eight, without me and Blinkers. And I 
looked for old Speddick to get 'is mate or 
'ave none. 

"All I wanted now was someone as I 
know'd could cook decent, and make bread, 
soft tack. For Speddick would 'ave to give 
us that I meant goin* 'ome fat. 

" And, by gosh, as I was goin' down to 
Sandridge, I 'ad the finest idea as ever 
struck me. I lay down in the road and fair 
roared, and Blinkers, who was a bloomin' 
solemn bird, and fair ridiklus with blue 
spectacles, very foolish-lookin' on a sailor, 
was 'alf frightened at me. 

" ' What's the matter ? ' says 'e. 

" ' Oh, matter,' says I, * there's a joke in 


my mind, and nobody Vl\ tell till it comes off. 
OLord! OLord!' 

"And I yelled again, and rolled in the 

'' ' 'Elp me up, Blinkers,' I says at last. 
And in we goes to Sandridge, chucklin' all 
the way. And, passin' Jackson's, I see 'im 
at the door, and gives 'im the time of the 

** ' Go to 'ell,* says 'e. 

'"After you.' says I, perlite enough; 'im 
grinnin' as if 'e'd like to punch my 'ead, on'y 
not darin', not being able. 'Is eyes was 
still in moumin' for the time 'e thought 'e 
could, and there was a scar on the bashed 
bridge of 'is ugly nose, as I'd run my fist 
agin'. If 'e tried it on then, 'e'd 'ave 'ad 
ginger, for I 'ad a big stay-sail 'ank in my 
right-'and pocket for a knuckle-duster. 

'' And the best of knuckle-dusters a 'ank 
makes, with the double edge of it. I 
downed four Dutchmen and a Greek with it 
one time, and they all 'ad to go to 
'orspital, and I was on'y saved doing time 
by their catchin' a chap as they thought 'ad 



done it, and, though he 'adn't, he deserved 
what he got, for that same man once cut me 
about somethin' cruel, and me quite civil to 
'im always, for he was a notorious 'ard nut, 
and laid for 'omeward-bounders for a livin*. 

'* I goes off to the Great Republic, and 
finds my bloomin' convallysents playin' 
euchre, two at single-'anded, and the other 
three at cut-throat. I tells Speddick about 
the other three comin' and 'e was a bit 

** * If youVe white-livered about it,' says I, 
*why, you'll stay and rot 'ere. You can't 
pick your crowd. We're all toughs, ain't we, 
but you want your ship 'ome, don't you, and 
you ain't goin' to 'ave no soft-spoken Young 
Men's Chrishun Association to do it for 
you? Did you expect me to get you a 
singin' crowd from the Bethel ? ' 

**So 'e caves. 

'' * Will that be enough ? ' I arst 'im. 

** * There should be more,' says 'e, * but 
we'll make out on it.' 

** ' I'll do my best for more, Speddick,' says 
I, and ashore I goes. 



**That night I tumbled on two fair 
scorchers, dead-broke and bust, and ready 
for anythin', and I persuades them to sign. 
For they 'ad a down on Australia like me. 
And, goin' through the town with 'em, we 
sees Jackson again, and one of 'em goes up 
to *im without a word and plugs 'im. But 
Jackson ended by downin' 'im. And, it not 
bein' my intention to spoil Jackson alto- 
gether, I lets *em 'ave it out, and takes my 
man away, bashed and bleedin' and swearin'. 
And then these two was in for what I 
wanted on the next night, when Bob, the 
detective, brought 'is men aboard, and got 
'is ten quid from Speddick. 

" That was at ten o'clock, and Bob brought 
'em in a boat, two sober and glad to ship, 
and the betting josser dosed and limp, with 
some laudanum the doctor *ad fixed up for 
Bob to give 'im. 'E was good for a twelve 
hours' snooze, and, by the time 'e woke, we 
would be out of the 'eads with any luck. 
For me and the skipper 'ad fixed it up to 
sail at four in the morn in'. 

**When we 'ad the bettin' bloke lyin' 


comfortable, and the doc lookin' after 'im, I 
goes aft to the skipper. 

'* * There's on'y one more man we must 
ave, cap.,' says L 

•'* Who's that?' says 'e. 

" * Why, the cook, man alive I ' says I. 

" * Oh, any one of 'em can be that," says 'e. 

" But I shook my head. 

"' I've promised 'em all the best of grub 
and good cookin', and now I'm ashore to get 
one,' says I. * I knows of one as '11 ship with 
a little persuasion,' says I. 

'* So, calHn* to the two as was with me in 
the scrap with Jackson the day before, ashore 
we went. 

** ' Jackson robbed you both, did 'e ? ' I 
arst of 'em. 

** * 'E did so,' they said, cussin'. 

** ' Would you like to be upsides with 

" You bet they said they would, and I 
unfolded my little plan as I'd laughed at when 
Blinkers wondered why I yelled so. 

'* And when I say as Jackson 'ad bin a 
cook afore 'e took to skinnin' sailors, it's easy 


guessin* why I laughed. Why, they fair 
screamed, these two did, Smith and Gavel 
was their names. Gavel bein' the one that 
Jackson whipped, me lookin' on. 

" * But 'ow'U you get 'im ? ' says they. 

** * Oh, that's easy, mates,' says I. ' We'll 
be under 'is winders at two o'clock, and 
nothin' bein' doin' in Sandridge, itll be pretty 
quiet, and 'e'U be turned in. We'll ave the 
boat on the beach, and you. Gavel, can throw 
a stone through 'is winder, and play bein' 
drunk and wantin' to fight 'im again, though 
not makin' too much noise. And, then, out 
'e comes, and we comes from be'ind the 'ouse, 
and just downs 'im, and carries 'im to the 
boat It's as easy as say it' 

" And so we fixed it 

"At 'arf-past one we sneaked up quiet, 
and saw 'ow the land lay, and no bobby 
about I 'eard Jackson lock the door, and 
then the light come in 'is window. And, 
presently, Gavel done as I told 'im, and crash 
went the winder, and Jackson runs down mad 
and boilin', and goes straight for Gavel, me 
'ot-foot be'ind 'im. Before 'e reaches Gavd, 


I 'it 'im on the back of the 'ead with a teak 
belayin*-pin Td picked out special. And 
before you could say * knife ' we 'ad 'im in the 
boat, while 'is wife 'ollered from the winder, 
but, as I guess, never seein' what came of 'im, 
and no one minded 'er. 

" And when we come alongside, I took Mm 
up on my back, and dumped 'im by the dosed 
chap, and told the doa to feel *is *ead. For 
I 'oped it wasn't fractured. But not a bit of 
it. The doc. said it was on'y a contusion, 
which, I reckon, is medical for a thunderin* 
big lump, and that 'e'd be right as a trivet in 
an hour or so. 

** And, about then, or a bit later, it showed 
signs of dawn, and, rousin* the crowd out, we 
'ove the anchor up very sulky, and stood for 
the 'Eads. 

** So, there we was, fifteen 'ands or there- 
abouts, all told, to a fifteen 'undred-ton ship, 
by good luck an easy worker, not one of them 
'eart-breaking 'ookers as always works sulky, 
like a tired crowd. 

"There was me, as was bo'sun, and 
Blinkers for two, and we palled in a bit. 


The 'orspital chaps was Prosser and Bates 
and Casey, an Irishman, and Mullen and 
Shaw. Prosser was the jaundered bloke, and 
still yellow as a rotten lemon, and no sailor ; 
Shaw was 'im as ad 'is leg-bone busted ; and 
Casey and Bates was no more than just out 
of the orrors and no sailors neither. Mullen 
*ad bin knifed down out of Flinders Street 
one night, but not bad. 'E reely was a 
Dutchman, with an English purser's name. 
As for Gavel and Smith, they was fair devils. 
'Im that Bob 'ad called the auctioneer was 
not such a bad sort, and could yarn a good 
un. But Pawson, the bully, was a thick- 
headed evil beggar, as 'ated work. The best 
o' them three was the doc, and *is name was 
Sarle, a gent to look at, and strong, and first- 
rate fun, and, as we soon found out, as good 
a seaman as most of us, through 'is 'avin' bin 
Shang*ai-ed unexpected out of New York. 

"And, besides Speddick, quite the softy 
for a skipper, there was Bean, the first mate, 
and 'im no choice of mine if I'd been the old 
man. But, mates or crowd, it was take what 
you could, and make the best of it ; so, may 


be, Speddick was in luck to get one as knew 
'is duty, if not 'ow to 'andle the lot Td fixed 
him up with, poor beggar. Oh ! many's the 
time 'e wished 'imself on Sandridge pier, Til 
back, did Speddick, for 'e was one of them 
men with a soft, full beard 1din' a little chin. 
And IVe noticed as men with silky 'air, and 
lots of it, is fitter to 'andle lapdogs than boss 
a crowd, unless, as sometimes 'appens, they've 
obvious got the devil in 'em. 

** 'Owsever, there we was, and soon outside 
of Port Phillip's 'Eads, and going for the 
Straits under plain sail, and no sign of 
crackin* on yet. Says I to myself, ' We'll 'ave 
to alter that as soon as we get fixed up.* 
But I said nothin' then. 

** About four bells in the morning watch, 
though no watches was set yet, Pawson 
wakes up in the fo'c's'le, 'alf a dozen of us 
watchin* 'im for the joke of it. 

** * Poll,' says 'e ; first. And I shakes my 
fist at the rest to keep 'em quiet. Then 'e 
opens 'is eyes, and looks about, and closes 
'em agin. Then 'e sits up sudden. 

** * Where am I .^ ' says 'e. 


" ' Where do you reckon, mate ? ' I says 
to 'im. 

"'B'gosh, I'm aboard a ship,* says 'e and 
er givin* a good heave then, I could see 'im 
turn green. It saved a lot of argyment, for 
we just dragged 'im out into the lee scuppers. 
And, as I passed by 'im, I told 'im, in bits, 
'ow Bob 'ad sold *im for three pound six and 
eightpence, 'im not even 'avin' the 'eart to 

'* And then it was Jackson. Me and Gavel 
and Smith kep' watch and watch over 'im, till 
'e come to with a groan. 

** ' What's wrong ? ' he arsts, and Gavel 
chips in — 

"'Nothin's wrong cook,* 'e sang out. 
And Jackson rolls over, and sits up. And, 
ard 'it or not, 'e tumbles at once. 

" * You swine,' says 'e. 

** * Easy, Jackson, easy,' says I ; * go easy 
it you want a 'ole skin, which you 'aven't got 
to the back of your 'ead, for it*s your wife's 
a twelve months' widow, at the least, and 
you're cook, where I'm bo'sun.' 

" You never see a man look worse. I 
209 o 


never did. *E was fair ragin', and yet darsen't 
for 'is life. 

" ' ril cook nothin',' says 'e. 

"'You'll cook everythin*; and, what's 
more, you'll cook well/ says I, quite quiet- 
like. But I looked at 'im very stem, and, if 
there was any sort of a laugh on me, I reckon 
it didn't amuse 'im none. 

" ' There's fourteen 'ungry men on board/ 
says I ; * if you're off your feed, and if we 
leave out the chap in the scuppers' it s only 
thirteen : but them's got to be cooked for, 
and cooked for quick, and cooked for decent, 
and cooked for three times a day. Do you 
savvy ? ' 

** And 'e savvied. You bet 'e savvied. 

"I took 'im to the galley myself, and, 
while 'e was lightin' the fire with 'ot curses 
and some kerosine, I fetched stuff from aft, 
tins and tins of it For most of the stuff was 
still lyin' in the cabin, not yet in the lazarette. 
And, by the look of it, and by what we 
sampled, there warn't much to complain of 
yet, and Speddick 'ad kept 'is word, even to 
the pickles and the butter. 



" After breakfast, which was none so bad, 
and with no poison in it, for all Jackson's ill- 
looks might 'ave sunk the ship, Speddick calls 
us aft, and sets the watches. 

" I could see 'e was nervous, and I know'd 
the mate was too ; and the tone o' their voices 
made the 'ole crowd as contempshus as I was 
myself, and I could see mischief or fun stickin' 
out a foot, so to speak, all accordin' as to 'ow 
they took us, and accordin' to the temper of 
the crowd when it shook down and felt 
itself. And, there bein' no second mate, 
the skipper 'ad to take one watch 'imself. 
And little 'e liked it, Tm judgin*; for, as 
soon as we was clear of Bass's Straits, 
and 'eaded for the *Orn, I 'ad charge of 
the deck often enough at night-time, with 
'im snoozin' below. 

" And, just about then, there was the first 
signs of trouble, and, of course, I stood in with 
the crowd. 

"'What for should we keep watch and 
watch ? ' arst Gavel one day at dinner-time. 
* We're by the run 'ere, and ain't goin' to 
do no work, eh, just more'n is wanted ? ' 


" ' Why,' said the others, ' it ain't to be 

'* For it 'ad rained nigh on to every day 
since we left Melbourne, being late in the 
southern winter ; and, so far, Speddick nor 
Bean 'adn't plucked up the spirit as 'ave us 
do more'n just trim sail, and stow and set the 
fore and mizen t'gall'n's'ls once or twice. 

" ' Then I votes we keeps Calashee Watch,' 
says Gavel ; * sleepin' in all night suits me well.' 


'* * And me,* says they all. 

" * And does workin' all day suit you, 
Gavel ? ' I arst of *im. 

** * Not much,' says 'e. 

" ' Then it ain't Calashee Watch you wants,' 
says I. 

** * Calashee by night, and play in' cards by 
days,' says 'e, winkin*. * And the doc. 'ere 
plays the concertina.' 

** So 'e did— well. 

" ' You're leavin' out the skipper,' says I. 

" ' Skipper be damned ! ' says Gavel. * 'E's 
no account, and chance it. I sized 'im up the 
moment I claps eyes on 'im. And the mate's 



only 'is dog, and won't bark till 'e's told. And 
Speddick won't dare tell 'im.' 

** And the doctor chips in. A rare devil 
'e was, with a blue eye laughin' all the time. 
But 'e know'd 'is business^ too, and never 
killed no man in Australia. 

" * Three cheers for this Republic,' says 'e. 
' This ain't no bloomin' ancient monarchy. 
It's goin' to be run on democratic principles, 
with equal privileges to all.' 

"And, by this time, bein' full of good 
tucker, and got over the first of the passage, 
and cleared out of rotten whiskey, they was all 
feelin' good, and they riz three cheers, all being 
there but Blinkers^ who was at the wheel. 

** I couldn't 'elp but laugh myself, for then 
I was no more'n thirty, and took things pretty 
easy, and was reckless enough at times, and 
refusin' duty, and goin' a nigh shave of mutiny, 
didn't scare me over-much. 

** But I was feared of losin' my money as 
Speddick 'ad signed to give me, and was 
bound to go easy, and keep in some with 
Speddick. So I frowns a little bit to the 
doctor, and ups and speaks. 


'' ' Go easy, boys, and I guess thisll be . 
a comfortable ship. But it ain't no good 
'urryinV says I. ' I'll 'ave a bit of a guff with 
the old man to-night I think it can be 
fixed easy, and no need for unpleasantness, 
if so be you're all of one mind' 

" As to that, I know'd they was. Sailor- 
isin' ain't none so pleasant as they should be 
eager to slave at it And, provided a man 
ain't drunk, 'e's mostly ready to do 'is fair 
whack, which is what no owner is ready to 
take for 'is measly two pound ten a month, 
which works out at little more than three 
Vpence an hour, rotten tucker given in, and 
saying nothin' of all 'ands bein' called. And 
yet men shies at joinin' a union. 

" Well, and it was fixed so. And, in the 
first watch, which was the old man's, I goes 
on the poop, kinder confidential, and touches 
my cap, kinder casual, as if I didn't mean it 
But then I didn't want the others to be 
familiar with 'im, if I was, and I know'd they 
was watchin' of me. 

" * May I speak to you, captain ? ' I arst of 



" * What is it, Cowen ? ' said 'e. 

" * Well it's this way/ said I ; " this 'ere 
crowd is rather a rough lot, and, times bein' 
what they are, they knows their value, and, 
though not presoomin*, they 'ave kind of 
told me, knowin' as I know'd you first, to 
speak to you about the watches.' 

** ' Well, what of 'em ? ' says 'e. 

"'They wants Calashee Watch,* says I, 
'and a good sleep in, if they can get it 
And, what's more,' says I, lookin' at 'im, Mf 
you don't mind my sayin' it, Td give it 
'em, sir.' 

'' And 'e plucks up some spirit and refuses, 
quite angry. 

*"0h, very well, sir,' says !, *beggin' 
your pardon for mentionin' it' 

*' And I tells 'em, and but for Gavel, I think 
they'd 'ave took it And what d'ye think 
'e done ? Bein' Sunday, 'e got the 'ole crowd 
on the fo'c's'le 'ead, and 'e slings a bottle 
right out at the end of the starboard whisker, 
and, most of 'em 'avin' revolvers, 'e gets 'em 
target - shootin'. And poor practice they 
made, but good enough for Speddick, for 


presently 'e sends for me. And I warn't in 
no 'urry. 

"'Owsever, when I does go aft, 'e was 
standin' first on one leg, and then on another, 
like an 'orse lame in both fore-feet, and Bean 
with 'im. I could see they was agreein' to 
make the best of it. 

** vOh, Cowen,' says 'e, * Mr. Bean and me 
'as bin talkin' it over, and, seein' as we are a 
bit short-'anded for such a ship, and some of 
them bein* no more than just out of an 
'orspital, I thinks it's no more than right for 
'em to 'ave the watches as you suggested. 
So you can tell 'em so.' 

** * Thank you, sir,' says I. And I turns 
to go. 

" * What's the shootin' ? * says 'e. 

"'Oh, nothin', sir,' says I. 'But bein' 
mostly from the mines, and a rare rough lot, 
they 'ave their revolvers with 'em, and 
thought they'd try 'em, it bein' Sunday.' 

" * 'Ave they all got 'em ? ' 

** I shook my 'ead. 

*' * Not all, sir, but most.' 

" And, with that, I goes for'ard agin. I 


told the crowd as 'e'd give in. And they 
shuts up shootin', and goes below, and plays 
cards, euchre and poker and seven-up till 
dark. They calls the Joker in the pack 
Speddick, for Gavel says — 

'' ' Old Speddick's a blank card, 'e is, and 
on'y just wot you calls 'im. Likely 'ell end 
in bein' cook, in place of Jackson.' 

" 'E might 'ave gone farther from the mark 
than that, as it turned out But Gavel, for 
all Jackson pasted 'im once, was a clever 
swine, and know'd B from a bull's foot any 
hour of the day. 

'' And speakin' of him and Jackson reminds 
me wot I'd 'arf forgot, for it 'appened, me 
bein' asleep, that Gavel and 'im 'ad a turn-up 
about the duff, and, though Jackson fought 
'ard, Gavel downed 'im twice, and at last 
outed 'im with a dislocated jaw, that Sarle 
put in beautiful. 

** When Gavel says that, I knowed 'ow it 
would be, them bein' most what they was, 
rough and tough, and the rakin's and scrapin's 
of 'ell. For, though I says it, I was a'most 
the quietest on board until roused. And, 


bein' bo'sun» I kept myself a bit to myself, 
though not too much. But, talkin' with Sped- 
dick, I told 'im 'e 'adn't no soft thing a'ead 

" * And it'll not pay you, Speddick, to try 
any *andspike racket with this lot They'll 
dump you over the rail as soon as think it, 
and swear it was the act o' Gawd' 

'* That was wot 1 slung 'im, and it was 
true enough, as you'll see. They was men as 
wanted the fear o' Gawd put into 'em right 
off. But who was Speddick but a chafer on 
a pin ? And didn't I swing 'im round alone ? 
So what the crowd could do with their guns is 
easy to guess. An American skipper, with an 
'ickory face and murder in 'is 'eart, and an iron 
belayin'-pin in 'is 'and, might 'ave wrought 
wonders at the send-off, but nowitwas too late. 

'' And lucky Speddick and Bean was that 
they were softies, and lucky for me, and 
lucky, too, that the situation took us 'umorous. 
For, bein* older now, I sees well as it might 
'ave been an 'angin' job for all of us afore we 
put the thing through." 

" Well, there we was, and goin' boomin', 


for the Republic she was a flyer in 'er way, 
though not up to Thermopyla or to the 
Samuel PlimsoU. And, after a bit, I began 
to take things easier in my mind, and didn't 
care so much about the bloomin' sugar, for 
I fair enjoyed myself. Bo'sun I was, and I 
sat on the rail, with my arm round a back- 
stay, smokin' 'alf the day. and watching the 
old girl shake seizings and shearpoles off 'er, 
and nothin' done to stop it Laugh, well, 
wouldn't it make a cat laugh? And the 
crowd sitting out on deck, when it was 
warm, playin' poker. 

" ' rU raise you a plug ' 

** ' I see that plug, and go two plugs 

*' And so on ; and the skipper, lookin' on, 
tryin' to seem cheerful. 

*' And, then, the servin' out of the rum 'ot 
And Jackson bringin' the glasses round like 
a waiter. And us calling ' Jackson, the sugar ; 
and why ain't we got silver tongs } ' 

" The skipper presently would look at it 
breezing up, and 'e'd call to me. 

" * 'Old on, sir,' Fd say ; ' I'll be with you 


in two shakes of a lamb's tail. The 'and is 
near played out.' 

" Then I'd go up, and 'e'd suggest, timid, 
as the fore-t'-gall'ns'I should be took off 'er. 
And I'd call for volunteers to do it. You 
bet it was fun, and I fair screeched sometimes 
even in my bunk. But I never was eager to 
take sail off 'er. ' Crack on ' was my motto, 
for we was paid by the run, and it was 
Speddick's tender way with things as led to 
the next move. 

*'For 'e was that tender with 'is spars as 
give me the 'ump, and, from 'is name, me 
thinkin' 'e was a Scotchman. And what 
Scotchmen is in the way of crackin* on, you 
know, a Yankeefied Scotchman bein' the 
devil 'imself, and them I've often see'd 
swingin' their maintop-gall'nVls close'auled, 
and sobersides of English skippers before 
the wind, and no more than the topsails set. 

" I give old Speddick a delicate 'int, once 
or twice, for I says to 'im this 

*'*Look 'ere, Speddick, you're far too 
bloody tender with 'en With this 'ere wind, 
she'll carry all you can give 'er.' 



" ' And who's to shorten er up, and you 
blokes playin* cards ? ' says 'e, bitter enough. 

" I screws my mouth up. 

*' * I done my best for you, cap., and the 
best ril continue to do, but I can't 'old in 
this team,' says I, 'and all I'm doin' is to 
give you a delicate 'int,' says I, 'as 'ow best 
to drive what you can't 'old. But if you'd 
rather I didn't speak, why, you give me the 
'int, and I'll dry up. I fetched the crew 'ere, 
but it's the officers' business to control 'em.' 

" I turns to go, oh, very perlite, for I caps 
'im, and scrapes, quite formal. 

" * Stay, Co wen,' says 'e, and 'e softsoaps 
me, 'e does. For 'e was scared not to 'ave 
me partial on 'is side, and 'e was scared to 
death of firearms. 'And, look 'ere Cowen,' 
'e adds, 'though I think it'll breeze up 
'eavier, we'll keep 'er as she goes.' 

" And certainly it looked a trifle black in 
the weather quarter, and the glass, as Bean 
told me, was fallin' a little. 

" If I don't disremember, this was in the 
first or second dog-watch, when we was 
nigher than 'alfway to the *Orn ; so one 



might look for it stiff now and then, though 
in them latitudes I've noticed it often don't 
come to nothin', even when it looks to begin. 

** That night Sarle and me was deep in a 
game of brag, and me ten pound of tobacco 
out, for, till then, we 'adn't begun to play for 
money, not 'avin' much. And one thing as was 
usual in them days Speddick wouldn't do at 
first — I means, dividing a 'undred quid on the 
capstan, for the crowd to play with goin' 'ome. 

** Well, as I say, me and the doctor was 
braggin* agin' each other, and three times I'd 
see'd 'im, and lost, when I gets three of a 
kind, and, on drawin', fills. And 'e chucked 
two 'imself, and bet free. All the others was 
playin', or lookin' on, and the rum 'ot, a 
fairish whack, was in every man's fist, for 
she a jumped a bit on a risin' sea. And, just 
then. Gavel gets gravelled at 'is game. 

" * Oh, damn,' says 'e, * I wish I was at 

'ome, at 'ome I do.' And, being chanty man, 

'e starts — 

" * And when we get to London Docks, 
The pretty girls come down in flocks/ 

And some of us joins in, laughin'. 



"*Go it, old girl,' says I, when she rises, 
and pitches, and I steadied myself on the 
chest I was sittin' on ; 'go 'ome, my beauty.' 

*' And then Sarle sees me, and blowed if 'e 
didn't 'old four deuces, and me a full 'and, 
kings and tens. It made me that mad I 
could 'ave scoffed a ringbolt And then Bean 
comes along, and puts 'is 'ead into the fo'c's'le. 

" * The three tops'ls is down on the cap,' 
said 'e, with a grin from under 'is sou'wester, 
for 'e wasn't a bad sort, after all, ' and the 
captain would be obliged if you gents would 
come out and reef 'em.' 

"There you see what comes of a soft 
skipper ; even the mate, no very great shakes, 
and young, made a joke of 'im. 

" Well, the crowd groaned, bein' com- 
fortable, for it's wonderful 'ow soon a crowd 
learns to run a show to suit itself. 

" * Come in, Mr. Bean,' says Gavel, and 
the others echoes it. And Bean just stands 
inside, shinin' with the rain. 

" ' Oh, blimy, it's rainin',' says old Shav, 
'im with the game leg — a Shadwell chap 'e 



" * D'ye really think as it's necessary to 
reef 'er down, Mr. Mate? ' says Gavel, with 
a wink. 

" ' Yes,' says the others, takin' a lead ; ' for 
we wants to go 'ome.' 

" ' We ain't on monthly wages,' says 
Smith ; ' it's the run 'ome we're paid for.' 

" * What do you say, Cowen ? ' says 

"Now, if it 'adn't bin that I'd been so 
sick with Sarle's four deuces, I might 'ave 
got 'em out, and reefed 'er down, but I was 
just a leetle cross. Some men's tempers 
give sudden, and at times I'm one of 'em, and 
this piece of luck in play was all of a piece 
with my luck at the mines, and some'ow I 
thought I'd never even get my money out 
of the ship. 

" ' I says nothin', and don't give a damn,' 
I answers, shufflin' the cards. 

"And, what annoyed me more. Gavel, as 
I began to dislike, kind of takes command. 

" * I'll just take a look at the weather,' 
says 'e, and puts on an oilskin, and out 'e 
goes. 'E comes back in a minute or two. 


" • There ain't no need to reef 'er,' says 'e ; 
' and, what's more, Bean don't think so.' 

'* * If Cowen don't think so, we'll go out, 
and 'oist em agin,' says Shaw, who 'ad no 
'ankerin* for hours aloft 

" And then I know'd as I'd 'ave to go with 
'em, or lose any kind of influence I 'ad. And, 
not carin' what I done, I went out. Gavel 
was right enough ; and a good sailor 'e was, 
brought up to it from a kid, with a nateral 
idea of what was comin', as good as any 
barometer, and a man as could smell the 
land. And, wishin* to put 'im back in 'is 
place, me bein' bosun, I just looked alofti 
and then comes back. 

•' * This 'ere craft don't require no 'elp to 
get through the night comfortable,' says L 
* Come, men.' 

"And out we goes — me spokesman, my 
'and bein' forced. When we come aft, on 
the quarter-deck, all of us but Shaw, 'oo was 
nursin' 'is game leg, I calls to Speddick 

" • Captain Speddick,' says I, * we don't 
think as she wants a reef took in. We're of 
opinion as she can stand it easy. And we 
225 p 


wants it understood as we're 'ere for the run 
'ome, and you've got to drive 'er.' 

" I could 'ear 'im choke, but, afore 'e got 
in a word, I sings out, ' Maintopsail 'alliards,' 
and, stretchin' 'em along, we 'oists the yard up 
again to Gavel singin', ' 'Aul on the bowlin'.' 
There was disrespect and mutiny in the 
voice of 'im, and when 'e says, 

"'•Aul on the bowlin', 
We're bossed by bloomin' Chiaamen,' 

you could 'ave 'eard a chuckle go for'ard to 
them tailin' on behind me. 

" When we 'ad the topsails 'oisted agin, we 
goes back into the fo'c's'le, and, after a bit, I 
slipped out, and went aft on the poop, findin' 
Speddick pretty nigh cryin'. So I was extra 
civil, findin' my persition just a wee bit 
awkward, 'olding candles to the devil aft and 
the devils for'ard, 

" * Could I speak to you, captain ? ' says I ; 
and, Prosser bein* at the wheel, with Bean 
watchin' 'im, for little 'e know'd about it, I gets 
Speddick 'alfway betwixt the binnacle and the 
break of the poop. 



" • What d'ye want ? ' says 'e, angry like, 
perkin* up a bit. 

'' ' I wants to tell you, captain/ says I, 'as 
it wam't my fault as the tops'ls was 'oisted 
again. But they're a tough lot for'ard, I own, 
and you can see that same with 'alf an eye, 
and I 'ad to do it, for Gavel forced my 'and. 
And if I broke with 'em, I'd 'ave 'ad no power 
over 'em at all' 

" * You're the toughest of the lot yourself, 
Cowen,' says 'e. And I 'm not sayin' as 'e adn't 
the right sow by the ear that time. 

" * And lucky for you if I am,' says I, ' for 
I'm on your side, as you knows. And it'll 
be in your mind to chouse me out of my 
money if I gives you 'alf a chance by be'avin' 
bad. And that chance I won't give you; 
and you ask the mate if it was me started it' 

" And Bean allowed it warn't me. 

** When I told you as it was best to crack 
on all she'd stand, I was givin' you the best 
of advice,' says I, '' and your not takin' it 'as 
led to this. But you wouldn't take a delicate 
'int, and now you 'as to take one as delicate 
as a crack with an 'andspike. And if I'd let 


'em get their knife into me, I wouldn't 'ave 
'ad an 'old on 'em more'n 'oldin' an unbroke 
'orse with a rotten pack-thread.' 

" And 'e allowed Td acted for the best 

" ' And if they carries on furder,' I tells 
'im, 'and I'm with 'em, it's just because I 
can't 'elp it They're an un'oly lot, on'y fit 
for a Western Ocean packet, and mostly no 

" I leaves 'im then to chew on it, and goes 
back to my bunk ; and she stood the three 
topsails right enough. And, though she 
wanted the sails trimmin', 'e never called the 
crowd to do it till breakfast-time. 

" And, till we rounds the 'Orn, we 'as little 
more trouble, bar a scrappin' match or two, 
for Pawson downed Gavel and Smith when 
'e began to feel 'imself, and I 'ad to step in. 
And when I did, Pawson lay up for nigh on 
to a fortnight, and no man could say 'e was 
shammin', for the 'ead I put on 'im was most 

** But, after roundin' the 'Orn, we got 
some foul weather, and the fo'c's'le began to 
leak. Though that didn't trouble me, for I 


'ad my bunk and locker in one, it sickened 
the rest. And that young beggar Sarle 
egged 'em on to grumble, bein* as reckless as 
could be. And before I know'd it, and quite 
surprised at myself for the upside-downness 
of everythin', I was 'eadin' of a deputation 
aft, to tell the skipper as the fo'c's'le wasn't 
fit for human 'abitation, which was the way 
Sarle put it. 

" ' Why, no, ain't it ? ' said Speddick. 

" ' Then we'll shift aft,' says Gavel and 
Smith, nothin' be'ind of Sarle's 'int. 

" And aft they came, with all their dunnage, 
and, seein' no chance of stoppin' 'em, I 
collars the second mate's berth myself, it 
bein' the best. 

" * It ain't the first time I've come aft from 
forward,' says Sarle ; and 'e tells 'ow 'e was 
first indoosed to ship by a dosed drink, and 
'ow he came aft through knowin' 'ow to put 
the skipper's 'ip in. And even Speddick 
'ad to laugh. 

" The on'y two as didn't come aft was 
Jackson and Pawson. For Gavel wouldn't 
'ave Jackson, and me I stuck out as Pawson 


shouldn't come. For 'e was a crimp, and a 
pimp, and a bad 'at, and a grumbler, as no 
one liked. 

" And now it was that the drink got more 
free, for they know'd it was 'andy, and the 
upset of all rules and regulations and no 
discipline set 'em on to it Speddick, too, 
took to booze, and no wonder, bein' a weak 
man, and no more fit for skipper than for king. 
For, if rd bin *im, Td 'ave shot a couple of us, 
and made 'em respect me. 

" Well, there we was, beggars on 'orseback, 
if ever men was, and ridin' to the devil was 
easy, and the way plain as the road is for drink 
when a chap is thirsty and 'as a bottle of beer 
open afore 'im. 

"It's luck I'm tellin' you this, for none of 
us should 'a come out of the mess Speddick 
put us in, what with not bein' able to 'old 'is 
own and the drink. For there we went 
boomin' north, and the Falklands 'andy to 'it 
on, and weather no observation could be took 
in, and dead reckonin' in no man's mind. 

'• I never see'd the log 'ove once, and don't 
believe it was 'ove. And Bean was nateral 


good company, and as fond of a glass and a 
song as any man, and often there warn*t no 
one on deck but the man at the wheel, though I 
did look up now and agin to see 'ow she stood 
it For, by the drift of things, it was me as 
run 'er, and when me and Gavel was one we 
shortened or made sail. For Speddick 'ad 
'is soul in soak in less than ten days arter he 
broke adrift, and 'elpless 'e was mostly, and 
Bean singin', 'avin' a good voice, as I said. 

" But the weather not bein' too bad, times 
warn't so rough, and I'm willin' to bet no crowd 
'ad a softer seat For Jackson 'ad to cook 
well, and did, after one time sendin' in burnt 
soup, they dipped 'is 'ead in. And with little 
more than a man's trick at the wheel comin' 
round, there warn't much 'ardship. 

** It was Casey, the Irishman, and Bates, 
them as 'ad the 'orrors in the 'orspital, as 
first broke out real bad on the drink, for, me 
bein' a bit boozed, they got the keys out o' my 
pocket. For me and Bean took 'em from 
Speddick, and Bean and Gavel, the on'y other 
with real devilment in 'im, agreed I should 
keep 'em. For Gavel 'ad some sense, though 


not much» and, 'avin' a wife 'e was fond of, 'e 
reely wanted to get 'ome, and 'e knew *is 
weakness if 'e really got blind or very wild. 
And 'is weakness was usin' of the knife. 

" Owsever, I woke up, and found the 'ole 
ship 'owlin' drunk, all but Sarle, and 'e not 
rightly sober. And Mullen — 'is real name 
was MuUer, but *e'd made it English — 'e was 
singin' 'igh Dutch or low Dutch under the 
table in the cabin, and the rest was at a real 
drinkin' match. 

" ' Where's the skipper ? ' I 'ears Sarle 

*' And then I comes in. 

" 'Where's them keys? ' I says, and Smith 
'ove 'em to me. 

" *'Ere you are, old cock,' 'e say ; *but it 
warn't I as shook 'em.' 

*• ' Who's at the wheel ? ' I arst of 'im, 
seein' 'e was clear- 'eaded. 

" ' Shaw,' says 'e. And Shaw was pretty 
sober, but eager to be relieved. 

•*So I shoved my 'ead down the com- 
panion, and asked Smith to come up. And, 
likin' me, 'e did, and took the wheel. We 


was then runnin* with foresail, three reefed 
topsails, and the main-t'gairn'sl set over, for, 
with things as they was, and a falling glass, 
I'd not shook the reefs out when they might 
'ave been. 

" And, when below, a glass or two cheered 
me up, and I was a bit merry, and sang 
'em — 

" ' RoUin' 'ome, rollin' 'omc, 
RoUin' 'ome acrost the sea, 
RoUin' 'ome to merry England, 
RoUin' 'ome, dear land, to thee.' 

And then Sarle sang, and the auctioneer 
spun a yarn about a robbery. Then it was 
that Sarle started the notion as nearly bust 
us all. 

" * This is a bloomin' republic, ain't it ? ' 
says e', very solemn, but with 'is blue eyes 

" * Yes,' says the crowd. 

'* ' Becos the king 'as abdicated,' says 'e. 
* When the skipper is blind, and Bean 'ere 
as bad, we ain't got no reg'lar leaders. And 
I vote the time 'as come for a general election,' 
says 'e. 



" ' 'Ear, 'ear/ says Shaw, and the rest 
lined in. And me, seein' as some good might 
come out of it, I jined too. And Sarle gave 
me a wink, as much as to say, * I ain't so 
bloomin' drunk as I looks.' 

" Then 'e gave us a speech, a real good 
one, with words in it not a soul knowed, and 
'e works the crowd up most enthusiastic, till 
they was ready to fly out and make him 
President right ofE 

" * 'Old your row,' says 'e, good-humoured. 
' This must be done reg'Iar. We'll do it as 
is done in the States, with tickets.' 

** 'E gets some paper out of the skipper's 
cabin, and starts writin' these 'ere tickets out. 
But, sudden, 'e stops. 

*' ' I ain't reg'Iar,' says 'e. ' We'll divide 
up in watches as we begun, and each shall 
pick out the men they thinks should be 
President and Vice.' 

*' So we 'olds two meetin's, one on the 
port, the other on the starboard side o' the 
saloon. And, by the row there was, you'd 
'ave thought the deck'd fly off". But in less 
than an hour, with Sarle goin' first one 


side then the other, we fixes the tickets up 
in a way, though not without a split in the 
parties, as 'e called 'em. 

" For the starboard watch nominated me 
for President, and Sarle for Vice, and the 
port side fixed on Gavel for President and 
Smith for Vice, though there was some on 
both sides as funked it, and said it might be 

"'Then,' says Sarle, contempshus, *you 
can save your bacon by doin' the usual thing ; 
you can nominate your own ticket.' 

" And they nominated Speddick and Bean 
in an 'ell of an uproar, quite the usual thing, 
as I've bin told. But Prosser, who was 
'orrible drunk, and grateful to the doc. for 
what 'e'd done for 'im, not yet rid of the 
remains of the jaunders, says 'e's for Sarle 
for President 

" When they offers me the nomination, I 
accepts, grateful. But Sarle makes a most 
elegant speech, and talks about the British 
Empire, very fine, as I must say. 

"And Gavel, 'avin' accepted on 'is side, 
two goes on deck, and tells wot's up to Smith, 


fair mad at bein' stuck there, and not knowin' 
what was goin' on. And 'im they persuades 
to join in. 

'' The lot as 'ad nominated Speddick goes 
in 'is cabin and tries to rouse 'im, but that 
they couldn't do. Then they punches Bean 
in the ribs, and wakes 'im up. And all 'e 
says was, * All right, sonny,' and oflF 'e goes 
to sleep agin. 

'* Then we agrees that the election should 
be 'eld next day, givin' time to sober a bit, 
though not much, for some o' them 'ad the 
stuff stowed away for the time they woke 
dry-mouthed. And most turns in, and me 
and Sarle goes on deck. 

"It was then pretty black, and breezin* up, 
and we was runnin' some eleven knots, 
maybe more, and it looked as if she'd be 
easier with the t'gall'n's'l off her. I told 
Sarle so. 

**'Why, let 'er scoot,' says 'e. 'She'll 
take it off 'erself if she wants to. That 'ere 
t'gall n's'l won't 'old none too much.' 

"'Oh, all right,' says I. 'But, Sarle, 
what started you on this election racket ? ' 


" * Ain't it time some one bossed the show ? ' 
'e arsts me. 

" And I allowed it was. 

" * That's wot I done it for/ said 'e, *and 
the joke of it And, what's more, I mean 
gettin' you and me elected,' says 'e. 'And, 
once in, we can 'old the fort, eh } ' 

" I reckoned the same, for it's wonderful 
what comfort a man can get out of somethin' 
done reg'lar. And I was glad as *e'd called 
it President For to be Captain would 'ave 
bin mutiny, and no fatal error about that. 

"That night the main-t'gall'n's'l parted 
company with us all of its own accord, as 
Sarle 'ad said, and I must say 'e 'ad 'is 'ead 
screwed on right, and knowed a lot of 
sailorisin', considerin' the little 'e'd bin to 

**But I'm not one of them as thinks 
experience is all that's wanted. That ain't 
my philosophy. It's the nateral 'ead a man 
requires, and a silly old thick-'eaded shellback 
don't necessary know more than the skipper, 
though, bar the figurin', there's little I myself 
couldn't give 'em points at 


" When it come mornin* I 'unted for Bean, 
not findin' 'im in 'is berth, and I locates 'im 
at last in the galley, drinkin' coffee, and 
lookin' pretty sick. But there looked some 
chance of gettin' an observation, and I per- 
suades 'im to get 'is 'am-bone out, and take 
a sight at eight o'clock. For Speddick 
couldn't and wouldn't, bein' a'most in the 

''And when me and Bean and Sarle 
settled where we was, I felt easier. And 
many's the time I wondered as no nateral 
pride 'ad made Bean buck agin' me and the 
others. But 'e didn't ; never a crooked word 
come from 'im, bein' fond of the rum, I 
reckon, and really thinkin' it was old 
Speddick's look-out. And 'im and Sarle 
gets quite thick, both bein' eddicated, though 
Sarle know'd most about anythin* barrin' 
navigation. And 'e'd even talk theeretic 
about that, would Sarle, most convincin'; 
though I never followed 'im in the arithmetic 
of it, not bein' much of a scholar myself. 

** 'Owsever, when it come breakfast-time, 
we 'ad grub, and a lacin' of rum in the coffee, 


and we sets to on the electioneering. And 
me bein' anxious to get in a'ead of the rest, 
I give *em more rum, until Sarle says — 

***No more, Cowen; go easy. Tis 
bribery and corruption you're at, and we 
don't want that 'ove at us afterwards.' 

" * Right, matey,' says I. And, goin' more 
cautious, I gives Blinkers a bottle, for 'e was 
on my side, tellin' 'im to serve it out where 'e 
thought it *ud do good, but not to waste it on 
any of the crowd that was set notorious on 
Gavel and that lot. 

" By four bells in the forenoon watch, Sarle 
as all the placards out on our side, and they 
read somethin' like this — 

" ' Vote for Cowen and Sarle, the People's 
choice. Honest Administration and Good 

** That was one, and another was — 

** * Reasons for votin' for Cowen and Sarle — 
** ' I. Becos Cowen can thump any one 

man on board, and do it easy. 
" ' 2. Becos Sarle can fix up any one 
wot gets thumped,' 
and a lot more as I forget. 


**And the others runs theirs out, but 
their placards was a disgrace with the spelling 
as Sarle points out to them as was waverin*. 

** The votin' was to be done between noon 
and eight bells, and Sarle and me 'ad got 
'em down in a list 

"Now, for me, there was myself, candi- 
dates votin' as was agreed on, becos no man 
could say as some of the candidates wouldn't 
prefer another man to 'imself, seein' the 
responsibleness of it, and Sarle and Blinkers 
and Shaw for certain. Prosser and the 
auctioneer was in the starboard watch, but, 
when we got the Calashee notion workin', 
watches didn't go for much, all piggin' in 
together, and I couldn't reckon on them, 
though I 'ad my *opes of the auctioneer. 

*'And on the port side, three was for 
Gavel and Smith. And of the others. Bates 
and Mullen was the lot as wished for Speddick 
and Bean, as was Prosser on my side, and 
possible the auctioneer. And Pawson 'ated 
them, and 'ated me, and might go for 

*'So it stood four for us, and three for Gavel, 


and four for Speddick, and Jackson and 
Pawson uncertain. And if Bean and Sped- 
dick voted for theirselves, they was in easy, 
for then they *ad six ; that is, if Jackson and 
Pawson didn't go solid for either of the 
reg'lar tickets, as Sarle called 'em. And 
this I'll say for Sarle, 'e kept 'is 'ead wonder- 
ful, when mine was goin' dazed with the 
complications of the show. 

"At noon Sarle served out the votin' 
papers, and explained to 'em that each paper 
'ad all the names of all the crowd down, and 
they was to put a cross agin' the names they 
wishes for President and Vice. 

** * But 'ow'U we know which is for which ? ' 
says Gavel. 

" And that Sarle 'adn't thought on. 

** * Then put a cross agin' the name for 
Vice, and for President put two,' says 'e. 
And, that seemin' nateral, they agreed. 

" And the votin' papers was to be dropped 
into Bean's cabin by 'is winder; and the 
door bein' locked in the sight of all by me 
and Gavel, we ties the key up in a 'andker- 
chief, puts it in a bread bag, and 'oists it 
241 Q 


*alfway up the mizentopmast stay, with the 
staysail 'alliards, and lets it swing there. 

"And then the electioneerin' began, and 
no mistake, and the Great Republic goin' 
boomin' in a black gale, and no one but the 
man at the wheel carin* a damn. The Gavel 
crowd get 'old of Pawson first, and Gavel 
palavers *im. 

" * I never said nothin' to lead to that 
row,' says *e, 'and Til own you outed me. 
And, sure, you'll never vote for Cowen ? ' 

*** Will I be allowed aft ? ' asks Pawson. 

" * Of course,' says Gavel. 

"'Then, mebbe, Til vote for you,' says 

** And I tries intimidation, though I didn't 
want 'is vote 

" ' If I gets in, I'll be easy with you,' says 
I ; ' but if I gets in, and you agin' me, I'll 
paste blazes out of you.' 

''That's what I told 'im, and *e looked 
mighty black, but I could see 'e thought it 
worth thinkin' of, as it was, for I meant it. 

" But while I was goin* at it open, Sarle, 
with 'is tongue in 'is cheek, 'ad 'old of Bean, 


as 'e told me. Could things go on as they 
was, *e arst of 'im, and could *e 'old 'em down, 
with such a silly ass as Speddick at the back 
of 'im? And Bean allowed 'e warn't the 
man to 'andle such a crowd, bein' young, 
and used to the usual lot sailin' out of 
London, not to men with guns in their 

"And then they goes to Speddick, and 
shakes 'im up, and Sarle mixes 'im a pick-me- 
up, and makes 'im a bit comfortable, and 
allows as 'e's very ill, and must be took care 
of. And, afore 'e's done with 'im, 'e gets 
Speddick 'imself to vote for me and 'im, and 
Bean does too. But all this 'e kept dark, 
for fear the Johnnies as wanted to vote for 
Speddick mightn't do it, but, bein' throw'd 
over by their men, vote for Gavel agin' me. 

'* So now we 'ad six votes, and fifteen was 
the full number. So two more would give 
us the bloomin' majority. I made a speech, 
and so did Sarle, and so did Gavel, and so 
did the auctioneer, who 'ad a 'andsome patter, 
and slung it off 'is chest a good 'un. But 
who 'e was for, I couldn't tell, for blowed if 


'e know'd 'imself, though 'e give us all a good 
word, till Prosser says — 

" * 'Oo are you gettin' at, you silly jonnick ? 
Come down out of that' 

" And no one yet 'ad slung 'is paper in the 
mate's berth. So I set Blinkers to sham a 
bit drunker than 'e was, and offer Casey the 
use of another botde of rum. And it worked 
just like I wanted it. For Casey only wanted 
a toppin' to what 'e'd took to go off. And, 
as the last of the votin' time came on, 'is lot 
found *im stretched out stiff with the drink, 
and not even the 'ose over 'im fetched 'im to. 
When this came out, Gavel carried on some- 
thin' awful, and said somethin' about 'avin' 
any truck with the Irish in the way of political 
give and take, that Casey, bein' sober, would 
'ave took up too quick. And Sarle wouldn't 
touch 'im, sayin' that to wake 'im might be 
dangerous, though, when eight bells was 
passed, and the votin' done, he physicked 'im 

" So, Casey bein' incapable, we 'ad six out 
of fourteen, and one more would make a tie, 
and we know'd as some would sure vote for 


Speddick. And I made Blinkers say a3 'e 
would, because I wouldn't give 'im no more 
rum, and I swore somethin' 'orrible at 'im. 
And, just at seven bells, I shouts and fetches 
'em all along, and says it's gettin' time to 
vote. And Sarle comes 'urryin' too, and 
fetches out 'is paper. And startin' 'em was 
all as was wanted, as 'e know'd well. 

''In five minutes all the votes was in but 
Pawson's and Casey's and Speddick's. At 
last Pawson whispers with Gavel, and drops 
'is vote in. Then Sarle goes, and fetches 
out Speddick ; just like a ghost, 'e was, and 
for a while the crowd was 'alf scared. And 
then Gavel, smellin' a rat, objecks to the 
skipper, sayin' 'e warn't fit to vote. But 
even 'is own side didn't see 'ow the old man 
was to be stopped. So 'e done what we 'ad 
told 'im, and Sarle took 'im back to ^is 

" ' And all 'avin' voted, we may aa^ well 
count 'em now,' says L 

'''Wait till it's eight bells,' says Gavel, 
nasty, ' for, if you 'aven't 'ocusaed Casey, 'e 
may come to before time.' 


*' * Who's 'ocussed 'im ? * says I, indignant, 
for all I done was to get Blinkers to give the 
bloke a nobbier too much. 

"*Why, you, I shouldn't wonder/ says 

" And, with that, I steps up to *im. 

" * You're short in the memory,' says I, * or 
you'd reklect I can lick you; for when 
Pawson downed you and downed your pal, I 
took 'im on, and 'e 'ad no sort of least show 
with me.* 

** And me lookin' nasty and ready, 'e says 
nothin' much, but grunts. And then it was 
eight bells. 

*' Bean and Sarle and Gavel opens the 
door, for I stood out of that, and, gatherin* 
up the papers, they takes 'em into the saloon 
to count 'em. 

"By now the weather was real nasty 
lookin', with a south-wester comin' up after 
us, and it was my opinion as she wanted a 
reef in the foresail, the way she was drivin' 
'er nose in, though never a wet ship ; and, if 
I was elected, the first thing I'd 'av 'em doin' 
it, and, maybe, if I wasn't 


" And, presently, I 'card 'em 'agglin' down 
below, when I puts my 'ead down the com- 
panion. It was Gavel's voice as caught me 
first, and I could see as 'e was out of it. And 
I laughed, and, just then, I 'eard a yell, and 
then a crack, as if a maul 'ad 'it a bit of soft 
wood. And down I jumped instantaneous, 
seeing Bean with 'is mouth open, and 'is 'and 
pinned to the table with a knife, and under 
'is 'and a votin' paper. And Gavel was lyin* 
insensible. For Sarle 'ad 'it 'im on the 
ear'ole, and no man wanted two of Sarle's 
cracks if 'e touched the proper place once. 
And then Sarle says — 

"* Steady, Bean, be a man.' 

"And, 'im clappin' 'is own 'and on Bean's I 
jumps on the table, and draws the knife out, 
as was an inch in the wood. 

"While Sarle binds up the 'and, I calls 
the rest in, and shows them the knife, and 
Bean bleedin', and the papers. 

** * Which was in, Sarle ? ' says they. 

** * Me and Cowen,' says 'e 'and that's wot 
narked Gavel, and 'e called Bean a liar, and 
then jabbed 'im.' 



**Then I bids the auctioneer and Smith 
go over the votes together, and they owns 
me and Sarle was elected regular. 

'* Then I walks to the end of the table, 
and claps my 'and on the table. 

" • Men,' says I, • I thanks you, and so 
does Mr. Sarle, for the honour you done us. 
And we'll deserve it by running things 
better. And to begin with, I'll 'ave you all 
know as I'm not goia' to be no poop orna- 
ment, but boss. This is a ship, this is, and 
no ship ever was as went well in the 'ands 
of a committee. We've proved that, and 
I'm goin' to get this 'ooker 'ome, and all 
hands too.' 

'* And they cheers, they does. 

*• * Now,' says I, * there's one more thing ; 
out with them six-shooters of yours, and 
plank 'em on the table.' 

" ' No,' says Smith. 

** * And yes,* say I, * and now, or there'll 
be trouble.' 

'' With that I pulls out two as 'ad been 
the captain's. And Sarle picks 'em up as 
they put 'em down, very slow, but they 


done it. Knowin' who *ad 'em, I got the 

*' 'That'll do,' says I ; 'and now we'll reef 
the foresail.' 

** Which we done accordin', and I got a 
look-out on the job, makin' the Dutchman 
take the first, and the auctioneer the second. 
For I wanted to bring the rest to their 
bearin's easy. And I was dead set on 'avin' 
all the credit of bringin' her 'ome, with, 
maybe, an 'andsome present from the owners. 
Which was Sarle's notion too. 

" The first thing next mornin' was to know 
what to do about Gavel's jabbin' Bean through 
the 'and, and Bean and Sarle and me discussed 
it The first thing I'd done, though, was to 
make Smith carry 'is mate for'ard just as 'e 
was when Sarle knocked 'im stiff. 

'' ' And take 'is dunnage with 'im. Let 
'im come to in the fo'c's'le.' 

'* All 'is own particular crowd stood in with 
'im, and didn't show up in the saloon for some 

"'Shall I 'oof them out too, Sarle?' I 
arst, wantin' 'is opinion* 


" ' Better 'ave the 'ole lot back there," 
says 'e. 

" * What'U they 'atch together ? ' says I. 

" ' Not so much if our lot's with 'em.' 

" But who know'd 'ow long they'd be our 
lot then ? 'Owsever, I speaks on the quiet to 
Shaw and Blinkers. 

" * Would you kick if we was to arst of 
you to go back into the fo'c's'le, mates?' I 
says. For I didn't stand on no dignity with 
'em as yet. * For,' says I, *it stands to 
reason we can't have Gavel and 'is pals 'ere, 
and if you volunteer to go for'ard again, it'll 
be easier, and less liable to rise ructions, 
which I'm not anxious to 'ave.' 

" And they agrees quite easy, for Blinkers, 
I know'd, couldn't get over the notion as 'e 
'ad no business aft, and Shaw was right under 
my thumb, and fond of Sarle, who looked 
after 'is leg, much given to achin', though 
especial so when there was aught to be done 

** * Be a bit sulky if you likes,' says I, ' but 
give us the orfice if they 'atches any thin' up. 
For, if they does, devil a penny shall they 


get of their run money, and you can 'int, if 
you like, as Sarle and me 'as the skipper at 
our backs.' 

" So they goes for'ard, and, presently, the 
rest comes aft for their dunnage too, one by 
one, kind of casual, but very sulky Smith and 
Casey was. 

"Well, when the next mornin' come, I was 
on deck early, for I *ad the mornin' watch, 
me and Sarle bein' more like first and second 
mates. And, at eight bells, I turns up the 
'ands in my very best style, bo'sun, mate, and 
President rolled in one, and aft they comes, 
all but Gavel. Sarle and me stood at the 
break of the poop, and Mullen was at the 
wheel ; she still runnin* as she was before. 

" I counts 'em up. 

" * Where's Gavel .^ ' said I, short enough. 

" * For'ard,' says some one. I didn't rightly 
catch *oo. 

** * Tell *im to come aft, and quick,' says I. 
And Prosser goes for'ard. If 'e didn't come, 
I was goin' to fetch 'im by 'is ear, and a boot 
be'ind. 'Owsever, e comes after a bit. 

•* ' Come up on the poop,' says I. 


*' And 'e came up — oh, but lookin' blade 
I pulls my gun, and Sarle puts the irons on 
'im very neat for an amatoor. Then I faces 
the crowd agin. 

'' ' After a fair election, you 'ave made me 
President, and President Til be,' says I; 
*and there ain't goin' to be no stabbin' or 
jabbin' or free drinks in this ship. Some 
of you reckoned as this was to be a kind of 
Fiddler's Green, but, you mark me, you ain't 
seven miles the other side of *ell yet. No ; 
you're in a pleasant ship, with all things 
comfortable, or in 'ell itself, just as you 
shapes. For I've 'ad enough of this, and if 
the skipper 'ad been strong, I'd a* backed 
'im. As 'e ain't, we've fixed this up for you/ 

** Then I turns to Gavel. 

" * Which do you prefer. Gavel ? ' I arst of 
'im. * To be kep' in irons and give up when 
we gets 'ome, or for Mr. Bean to give you 
beans 'ere, and say nothing about it ? ' 

" * You can't give me up at *ome,' sajrs 
Gavel. * You're mutineers yourselves.' 

" * That's what you're relyin' on, is it ? * 
says I. * But you're off it this time, miles 


off. For Speddick voted for me 'imself, and 
I 'ave it writ out in 'is own 'and.' 

" For that me and Sarle saw to, and Gaval 
knew 'e was 'ad on toast 

"'Well, then, I'll take toko from Bean,' 
says 'e, sulky. 

** And I calls on 'im to 'ear what 'e said. 

" * And till Bean's 'and's well, I'll keep you 
'ere,' says I. *A prisoner you'll be till 

** And we puts *im in an empty cabin, and 
locks 'im up. With the other would-be 
President in choky, we reckoned to break the 
party up, 'avin' no other likely candidate, so 
to speak. 

" Soon after this we runs north out of the 
bad weather, and I 'ad 'em at work agin, for 
I 'ad it in my mind to bring 'er 'ome in good 
shape, which 'ud be more to my credit. For 
now she was fair tumblin' to pieces, and 
every seizing rotten, and every backstay 
a'most in 'anks. 

"With Bean bossin' most of the jobs, 
'owsever, with 'is arm in a sling, we got on 
fine, and our on'y real trouble was Speddick, 



poor creature, as was reely sick. What 
Sarle named 'is complaint I disremember, 
but *e said 'e'd be a goner unless 'e got *ome 
quick, and was put on proper diet. So I 
cracked on all I could, and Sarle learned 
navigation with Bean, and we was all pretty 
'appy aft, though a bit of a fermenting went 
on for'ard. Blinkers kep' me posted, though, 
and I never feared aught And if it adn't 
bin for that swab Jackson, we'd 'ave 'ad no 
more trouble. But *e wasn't of a forgivin' 
nature, though I never thought it of 'im. 

** We was near up to the line afore Bean's 
'and was properly mended, and then I turns 
the 'ands up to see Gavel punished. We 
spread-eagled 'im on one of the wheel 
gratin's, and Bean gave him toko with a 
rope's end. But this I'll say, 'e 'ad grit, and 
didn't 'owl till it was necessary, and then 
Sarle doctored 'im. And we turned 'im 
for'ard agin when 'is back was sound, and I 
served out grog extra, over their whack, 
which was a tot a day, and two on Sundays. 

**A week after that we crossed the line, 
and picked up the North-east Trades, 


blowin' strong. And then one Sunday we 
was very near *ad, and I'm thinkin' it 
wouldn't 'ave been no joke if we'd gone 
under in the bloomin' plot as Jackson fixed 
for us. And to think as I missed the whole 
joke of it 'as often made me mad to think of. 
For it was Sarle as pulled us through. 

" That day, at noon, Jackson brought the 
dinner aft, as 'e always done, soup and a bit 
of first-class beef and some duff. 'E laid it 
all out under dish-covers, for 'e 'ated comin* 
in more'n once, and I never 'ankered after 
the sight of 'is face. Bean took some soup 
into the old man, lyin* very weak and 
despondent, and me and 'im sits down, and 
'ands up a plateful to Sarle, as 'ad the deck. 
For that we done always, and well Jackson 
know'd it 

" I drinks some of the soup quick, and 
Bean some of 'is, and then, of a sudden, I 
feels that sleepy, I couldn't name the feelin', 
and, lookin' up, I sees Bean drop, with 'is 
'ead on the table, and afore I could open my 
mouth I dropped too. And what 'appened 
after, Sarle told me. 



" Findin' 'is soup a bit 'ot, and never much 
carin* for it, and, moreover, *avin' a chew in 
'is cheek, 'e sets 'is down to cool. And, 
presently, 'e calls to me about somethin', I 
don't reklect what it was 'e said after. And 
me not answerin', 'e looks through the lifted 
skylight, and sees me with my 'ead on the 
table. Then 'e calls * Bean,' and Bean was 
likewise speechless. 'E runs down, and gives 
us a shake, but 'e might as well 'ave shook a 
corpse, and then 'e tumbles to it, and sees 'e 
ain't no time to lose. And 'e 'ad a good 'ead. 
Never should I 'ave thought of what 'e 

" 'E pours the soup into the tureen, and 
whips up on deck with it, takin' Bean's 
revolver, and mine too ; and, puttin' the soup 
down by the capstan, on the capstan he lays 
the spare shooter, and 'olds two in 'is 'ands, 
setting down on a 'encoop, from which 'e could 
get a good view of the deck. Then 'e lays 
back agin' the rail, and shuts 'is eyes, or 
three-quarters shuts 'em. And, presently, 'e 
sees Jackson peer round the deck'ouse, 
twiggin' 'im. Then 'e goes back, and comes 


agin with Gavel, and Smith, and Prosser, 
and Pawson, and Casey. And, just so soon 
as they was all aft of the mainmast, Sarle 
wakes up, so to speak, and, jumpin' to the 
break of the poop, *e sings out — 

" * Come up on the poop, all of you, or Til 

** And, though they looked sick, they came 
up, Jackson speakin' low, prob'ly say in' as 
Sarle would drop in a minute. 

" * One at a time. You, Jackson, first/ 
says Sarle. And, when Jackson came up, 
Sarle orders 'im to sit down, with 'is back to 
the rail at the break of the poop. And, as 
each one comes up, 'e done the same, 
coverin* them with his revolvers, both cocked. 
Then 'e sings out — 

** * Blinkers,' in the voice of a bull, and 
Blinkers comes out of the fo'c's'le. 

" * Bring a pannikin, quick,' says Sarle 
and Blinkers come along with 'is pannikin, 
wonderin' what was up. But now Sarle was 
easy in 'is mind. 

" • Give each of these gents 'alf a pannikin 
of this soup,' says 'e, ' and see they drinks 

257 R 


it.' And Jackson goes as white as though 

" * For Gawd's sake, no,' 'e fcries. And 
Sarle laughed. 

" ' That, or I'll kill you,' says 'e. And 
Jackson supped it, with 'is eyes startin' out 
of 'is 'ead. And so with the others. And 
Sarle said as Jackson keeled over afore the 
last one, as was Prosser, 'ad touched 'is. 

*' * Is many more in this. Blinkers?' arsts 

**And Blinkers, who was fair knocked 
endways, allowed 'e couldn't tell, but didn't 
think so. 

** * Call the others aft, then,* says Sarle, 
and the rest they turned out, and to see the 
others lyin' round like a lot of pigs scared 
'em at first. But the doctor explained, and 
they swore they'd 'ad no 'and in the notion, 
and Sarle believed 'em, and quite rightly. 

'* Then they carries me and Bean on deck, 
and for a while Sarle was pretty scared as 
we'd bin dosed too stiff, but 'e gives us 
medicine, and, presently, 'e got easier, seein' 
we wasn't poisoned. About six hours after 


takin' the dose I comes to, but 'is whack 
lasted Bean twice as long, and the poor 
old skipper slept till next day like an 'og. 

"When I woke up, for a while I was 
that stupid I couldn't make out what was 
what, but, by-and-by, with Sarle repeatin* it, 
I reely woke. 

"* Ain't it a circus?' says Sarle, showin' 
me the six conspiraytors sleepin* peacefully by 
the break of the poop. And 'e kicks Jackson 
in the ribs. 

" * This josser nicked the laudanum from 
the medicine-chest, that's what 'e done. I've 
looked, and it's gone. What'U we do with 
*em when they wakes ? * 

*' By the 'oly Moses, it puzzled me, it 

" Could I try 'em, and 'ang 'em ? Why, 
no, of course I couldn't But I'd 'a liked to 
'ave 'ung Jackson, as done this trick. Thinks 
I, * I'll give you laudanum when you comes 
to, my Shang'ai-in* swine.' And, then, who'd 
do the cookin'? For, whatever 'e was, 'e 
could cook very decent. 

'' All of a sudden the thing took me on the 


other tack, and I started laughin', and it took 
Sarle that way quite infectious. And the 
others jined in, one by one, and presently we 
was fair 'owlin', and 'oldin* our sides, and 
lyin' on the deck. Well, now, but it was 
funny, as any manll allow, to see them dosed 
that way, and sleepin' peaceful, them as ad 
'cocted up the idea, most likely, of dumpin' 
me over the rail. 

*' I clapped Sarle on the back, and made 
'im jump. 

** ' Well, now, but you are a rare 'un, Sarle. 
rd 'a shot and killed, but you done it 'umer- 
some. Oh, wait till they wakes, and 'ears 
me. Oh I just wait!' 

" And off I goes agin, fair rediklus for a 
President, and most undignified. So I picks 
myself up, and sobers down, and Sarle and- 
cuffs Gavel and Jackson, sleeping and the 
others we ties up tight. 

**And, early in the mornin' watch, they 
come to, one after the other ; and a pretty 
sight they looked, I can tell you. Mean — 
well, mean ain't the word, and I'd passed the 
order as no one was to speak to 'em, even 


when they spoke, and that made them sicker 
and very scared. And, to scare 'em more, I 
made Blinkers seize a jewel-block to the 
starboard yardarm of the cro'jack, and 
reeve a rope in it, and, quite promiskus and 
cool, I tried some runnin* nooses on the 
rope, and left one lyin', a real 'angman's 
knot. And, about ten o'clock, Smith speaks 
to me. 

"Ain't you goin' to give us no tucker?' 
says 'e. And 'avin' set old Shaw to do the 
cookin', I calls to *im — 

'* * Bring the rest o* that 'ere soup o* yester- 
day's 'ere,* says I. 

'* And, bringin' it, I bids 'im set it down in 
front of 'em. 

"•*Oo'll 'ave some?' says I. *You, 
Jackson ? ' 

** 'E never speaks. 

** No, you man-druggin', sailor-robbin' 
scum,' says I, *you know you won't. And 
as for the rest of you, I'd never 'a thought as 
you'd so bemean yourselves as to league your- 
selves with such dirt.' 

** And, losing my temper, and bein' forget- 


ful of my position, I emp's the soup over 

*'*Now lick your lips,' sa3rs I. And I 
leaves 'em to sweat for another hour or so» for 
me and Sarle and Bean 'adn't fiited up what 
to do with 'em yet 

*' But when we argued it out, Sarle reckoned 
as it was best to keep Jackson and Gavel 
tight, and let the others go. 

** 'There's no real 'arm in any of 'em, bar 
Pawson, and 'e's too thick-witted to *atch 
any thin',' says *e. 'If we gives *em a talkin' 
to, I shouldn't wonder if they'd act fairly 

" And we done so, unanimous, jawin' them 
one arter the other. They trembled, I tell 
you, when I get at 'em. And Sarle spoke so 
fine about lawful authority, the skipper bein' 
sick, that, when we let *em go, they touched 
their caps to me. And that day I gets out a 
gold-peaked cap belonging to Speddick, and, 
with a good suit of serge, I looked the skipper 
all over. And none but Blinkers would I 
speak to familiar, and 'im on'y at night, when 
'e took the wheel. I began to 'ate the idea 


of not bein' an orficer, and Sarle tried to larn 
me navigation. But too thickheaded I was — 
that's the truth, and I own up to it. Yet 
captain I *ave been, as I'm tellin', and when 
the crowd dalled me captain I took it, and the 
President notion I dropped. 

'* * Bloomin* despotism,' says Sarle. * You 
was elected President, and now you 'ave 
blossomed out as Dictator, 'avin' a nateral 
gift that way. And it bein' in the nature of 
things with a rough crowd.' 

'' But that crowd I 'ad to rights, and the 
ship like a man-of-war with new paint. For 
I never struck no better weather, and all our 
time was give to makin' the ship good to 
look at 

•'And presently Speddick came round a 
bit, and would crawl on deck sometimes, but 
not much. 'E never said nothin' about 
authority, and was grateful to me and Sarle. 
On'y but for Sarle 'e'd 'ave croaked a sure 

" We picked up a pilot early, and came up 
to London boomin', and somethin' to look 
at, I tell you ; and in the river, I relents, and 


lets Gavel and Jackson out of irons. They 
'ad the stiffenin' took out of 'em by that, and, 
moreover, the land was on both sides, and 
the sight of a brick made 'em think of the 
stone jug, them seein' me 'and and glove 
with poor old Speddick and the pilot. 

** And when the owners came on board, as 
they done when we was warpin' into the 
East Dock, they be'aved real grateful to 
me and Sarle. And we let Bean down 
easy, and evidence for that in 'is wounded 
'and. But when they looks for Gavel and 
Jackson, they 'ad 'ooked it — jumped ashore 
as the owners came aboard. 

** I got every red cent I'd agreed for with 
Speddick, and Sarle got more than common 
pay. And I've a notion we might 'ave 
worked salvage on 'em, or somethin' like it. 
'Owsever, we was satisfied, and when the 
biggest of the owners, 'im as named the firm, 
says, * You ought to be a orficer,' I was that 
proud, you can't tell. And the company of 
the firm says the same, and they says, * Get 
a second's ticket, and you shall 'ave a berth 
right off.' 



*•* Thank you kindly, gentlemen/ I says, 
'but, after bein' captain and President, I 
can't take no understrapper s billet And, 
with the cash in 'and. Til start a beer'ouse, 
and name it the " Great Republic." ' 

" And that I done." 

Printed by Baixanttmb & Co. Limitsd 
Tavittnck Street, LoodM 

4- ' 







(415) 722 

All books may be rec